Audio guides mark a turning point in the museum sector and have served to enrich visitors’ experience since its invention. Thanks to this device, pertinent and interesting information can be communicated to the museum visitor. What’s more, instead of grouping up around a single tour guide, visitors have total control and the freedom to choose and play commentary at their own pace. This being said, we mustn’t forget that museum audio guides have barely evolved since 1952, the year of its creation. Bet some of you didn’t know that.
With the technological possibilities available today, there’s definitely room for improvement.
This is what inspired GuidiGO to create an audio and visual software specifically designed for Google Glass in the museum context. A hands-free device you wear like eyeglasses and that provides you with synchronized visual and audio information on artwork seen. Free from external distractions or obligations, the visitor is now free to just enjoy the museum experience.
Just a couple of days ago we tested the tailor-made GuidiGO software or, more appropriately, Glassware at de Young Museum of San Francisco with a group of happy volunteers. The GuidiGO team was most proudly participating in the audiovisual guided tour experience!
This was the first time ever in history that more than 30 Google Glass devices were gathered together at the same place, at the same time, and all of them running the same GuidiGO Glassware.
So what should you expect from a museum tour experience with GuidiGO for Glass and how exactly does it work?
Glad you asked. Above all, we wanted to create an audio and visual guided tour that neither altered your relationship with the artwork nor your museum experience as a whole.
The de Young Museum Experiment
At de Young Museum, the actual hands-on experiment was exhilarating. Half of the participants were Google explorers who owned their own Glass and half were users handling Glass for the very first time. The ones who’d been initiated elsewhere, and already appreciated the Glass experience, became “new” users once again in situ. On a real high, they were all thrilled to be a part of an exceptional and unique experience.
Since GuidiGO for Glass is a Stand Alone Device, the participants didn’t need their smartphones or a WiFi network connection for that matter. They also didn’t have to lug around a heavy phone-type device around their neck.
With the Glassware’s simple 4-step Tutorial, it took new users only about 10 seconds before they had a good grasp of device controls. After these initial few minutes of adjustment, everyone gradually became so connected to their experience that some had even forgotten all about the device posed atop their noses, leaving only the artwork in the spotlight.
Thanks to the Image Recognition System the users could simply enjoy their time at de Young Museum and weren’t bogged down with the constant number searching and keying a traditional device demands. Needless to say, this hands-free function was a huge hit among participants. And why wouldn’t it be? It offers such freedom of movement that everyone is naturally immersed all the way their museum experience, pristine and undisturbed.
The device is also Gallery Friendly because voice control has been purposely left out of the Glassware, so no worries for noise disturbance during the tour either.
For us, it was satisfying to see that none of the participants had any problems finding their way around the museum rooms, thus confirming the efficiency of the built-in Assisted Navigation System. Ordinarily the chances that a user would get lost in a given museum are unlikely considering the system’s indoor map and real navigation with indoor positioning thanks to iBeacon (bluetooth LE), now supported by Google Glass.
Finally, it was easy to see that the participants weren’t locked down by the GuidiGO Glassware during the de Young experiment and were able to stay in contact with their entourage and even converse freely during their tour.
Offering a brand spanking new approach to experiencing museums and galleries, GuidiGO for Glass is the ultimate museum buddy. Without a shadow of a doubt the developments we’re making today are paving the way to a new generation of art and cultural heritage mediation!
Main Takeaways of the Live Test
First of all, it feels and looks invisible. That’s right folks, you heard me straight. It’s exactly what Astro Teller, the Google X boss, said in the recent TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in New York. For technology to work better, we need to get it out of the way! Granted there should be an adjustment period of a few minutes where your nose gets used to the Google Glass sitting on it, but it was designed in such an unimposing way that it won’t be a pain to wear nor will it alter your museum experience. Nothing should come between you and the artwork.
Not only is the device comfortable to wear but it’s “comfortable” to use. With its no-frills and convenient design, the user will be able to navigate through the program and the museum like a pro in no time.
GuidiGO for Glass is also frictionless, meaning everything should be smooth sailing from the moment you put on the Google Glass until you take it off. We developed an “Exploring Mode” function which sets the device on a permanent ready-to-scan state which activates the image recognition option. You won’t need to have your finger swiping the Google Glass every single moment. Let the device do all the heavy lifting. Your job is to enjoy the ride.
To further ensure that interference is minimal during your experience, the synchronized audio and visual commentary is contextual and not always ON the whole time. When appropriate it’ll automatically turn itself ON, and all of this depending on the context. See it as an exhibition guardian angel of sorts. When you need help, it shall appear. Your museum experience will be as natural and unadulterated as it can be.
For authors, our app also allows for easy content update. Thanks to GuidiGO Studio, visual and audio tweaking of tour content is only an easy few clicks away. The content isn’t embedded but downloaded and processed in real-time, so changes submitted are immediately effective and visible.
For visitors on the other hand, not only should it be easy to use but the app shouldn’t feel burdensome in any which way, shape or form, to keep their experience intact and authentic.
With GuidiGO for Glass, the dark days of bothersome audioguides are over!