MW2011: S. Fantoni, Mobile devices for orientation and way finding: the case of the British Museum multimedia guide


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pportunities that these could offer particularly in terms of visitors' orientation and way finding. The presence of a touch screen, in fact, supports the use of interactive maps, which, alone or in combination with location aware technologies can help visitors understand where they are and decide where to go.

More than 10 years have now passed since the implementation of the first handheld guide and, unfortunately, many museums are still struggling to develop and implement effective way finding solutions on mobile platforms. Location aware technologies have proven to be expensive and problematic to install and maintain, while interactive maps, particularly of complex sites can be challenging for people to use and interpret on small screens.

Building on the experience of other institutions such as Tate, the Met and the Louvre, the British Museum has recently launched a multimedia guide in 11 languages that supports way finding and orientation without relying on location aware technology.

In this paper, we will present in details the various way finding solutions that were developed for the guide, as well as the results of research and evaluations that were carried out on these applications during and after the launch. Through our experience, we hope to provide a reference for other medium and large size museums, which are grappling with similar issues.

A presentation from Museums and the Web 2011 (MW2011).

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  • MW2011: S. Fantoni, Mobile devices for orientation and way finding: the case of the British Museum multimedia guide

    1. 1. Mobile devices for orientation andway finding:The British Museum multimediaguideSilvia Filippini Fantoni, Matthew CockThe British Museum
    2. 2. Way finding at the BM A complex layout No clear geographical order No clear chronological order High density of object display
    3. 3. Interactive mapMap of 3 floorsZooming and scrollingKey in room number intokeypad
    4. 4. Guided toursUse of audio-visual directionsImages of landmarksPath highlighted on the mapResist the temptation oftelling people too much aboutthe surroundingsKey objects that are less likelyto moveKeep people on clear path
    5. 5. The NavigatorIntroduction to the museumlayoutLocation of popular works,facilities and galleries (Roman,Greek, Chinese, etc.)Use of known landmarks, floorlevel, room number, cardinaldirectionsReference to the interactivemap and the keypadfunctionality
    6. 6. The challengesCostsRotating exhibitsMultiple distributions pointsDifficulty of updating content
    7. 7. The guide in numbers 10 languages 230 objects 7 guided tours 1 version for children 1 version in British Sign Language 170,000 users since December 2009