Monday, June 27, 2011

“Museums and Human Computer Interaction”

I remember as a kid enjoying going to the museum because of all the neat and unexplainable things that I became exposed to. The big problem is that I had no real idea what I was viewing and if I did, I may have known very little about the object or its importance in order to be in a museum anyway. Recently, I got to spend almost a week in Washington D.C. and I spent a lot of time at The Smithsonian. This museum is broken-up into various themed sub-museums that have audio devices that allow the user to stand in front of an exhibit and be given an audio presentation of what the artifact is and its importance. Therefore the device gave me a better user experience because it shared information, provided education, and possible inspiration to promote further study of certain artifacts of history that may have really interested me. The minor drawback of this technology is that because of the private nature of the device (the use of headphones); the user’s attention may be drawn away from the environment around themcausing them to focus harder on the current experience. Because the external environments noise can be drowned-out by the headphones and the auditory presentation I listened to, I found myself separated from my group many times which resorted in our savvy uses to find each other using our smart phones. Nevertheless, this personal presentation technology makes the museum experience more enjoyable and substantive over the unfulfilling experiences I remember when I was a kid.

Today, there are new technologies that can give a museum visitor an even greater interactive experience that remains personal but also collaborative not only with the museum artifacts, but also with other museum visitors as well. This new technology is a remote collaborative multi-touch experience that offers an additional channel for museum visitors to explore the exhibition and increase the sense of connectedness and awareness between the two spaces. The experience flow includes stages of offering opportunities for exploration, negotiation, and cooperation (Arroyo, E., Righi, V., Tarrango, R., Blat, J., 2011). For museums like The Smithsonian, this technology can make the visitor experience be richer and more immersive while allowing group discussion and video communication between other visitors. Visitors can spend more time enjoying the museums with less worry of keeping track of others and their geographical locations as well. This kind of device also has numerous uses outside of museums. Instruments like this can be used in construction, plant management, transportation, and in many other environments where people may have to be in distributed areas while needing maximum mobility and the ability to communicate.

Arroyo, E., Righi, V., Tarrago, R., Blat, J. (2011). “A remote multi-touch experience to support

Collaboration between remote museum visitors”, 2011.

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