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Page history last edited by lstepp1@... 11 years, 5 months ago

Project Title:    Explorer: The New Way to Find Your Way

Museum/ Institution: American Museum of Natural History, NYC  

Media Category: handheld/mobile   

Program Created:  web app 

Program URL: http://www.amnh.org/apps/explorer.php


Project Image(s) and/or Video







Media Source(s)/Credit(s): American Museum of Natural History


Program Description:

This is an app available for iPod touch or iPhone that will help visitors better navigate the museum’s over half a million square feet, using triangulated WiFi to more accurately locate and guide visitors. The museum maintains over 300 pre-loaded itouches. There is also a treasure hunt, and integrated social media. The home screen gives visitors options for Find Exhibits, Museum Tours, Food & Shops, Restrooms & Exits. The bottom bar includes Directory, Map, Bookmarks and Info. The design and complementary content is clear. When a destination is chosen, a customized route appears on the museum map. You can browse by popularity or by Hall. The images and content are inviting, and may encourage people to plan trips and return. The app seems well thought–out. For instance, the choice not to include audio was made in order to encourage group interaction. There was technological and audience research before the app was developed. Plans and programs were reworked in the middle of the process as mobile technology shifted suddenly. Content was created and tested with simplicity in mind, as requested by visitors, who have rated the app successful (good or excellent) at 80%.



Firsthand or secondary review/critique:  

This is a major undertaking for a major museum. There is certainly a need. According to speakers at Museums and the Web 2011, visitors are regularly found wandering the halls, utterly lost. The range and quantity of exhibits are too complex to work well on a paper map, and over 60% of people surveyed needed to ask for help during their visit. Using a location based app inside of a museum is difficult, as GPS is unreliable.  The addition of over 300 WiFi hotspots that provide the signals for triangulations that determine a visitor location within a narrow area is innovative.  The museum claims it is “…a significant technological breakthrough and marks the first time an institution or business has been able to offer people a live, continuously updated determination of where they are inside a building”. (Read more: Explorer - Mobile Navigation and Interpretation at the American Museum of Natural History | conference.archimuse.com)

Hopefully, the app can provide the visitor with meaningful information, unifying their visit, while not distracting too much from the museum objects. I would love to see it expand into a small encyclopedia of the collection, so that people can browse more when they are off-site.

Technologies incorporated: iPhone, iPodtouch, WiFi, mobile web development, routing engine for route calculation, social network links and 3D room map view. 


Internally or externally produced: External/Spotlight Mobile 


Entry Contributor and Date: Laurie L. Stepp 4/10/2011


Related projects:  

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