According to some predictions, “by 2020, mobile devices will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world.” And a forward guard of museums is already adapting to this coming reality, according to a new website from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University on the use of mobile technologies in museums. The site includes a white paper of research findings, examples of mobile technology in action, off-the-shelf tools and prototypes, and a list of additional resources.
Here’s a summary of the research findings:
For many years, art museums have been at the forefront of offering their visitors learning experiences that extend beyond traditional exhibit labels with gallery kiosks and audio guides. More recently, art museums continue leading the way by adding cell phone tours, podcasts, and platform-specific applications in an effort to capitalize on the commonly-owned portable devices—iPods, MP3 players, Blackberries, cell phones—that visitors already carry in their pockets. Museum professionals see great potential in reaching new audiences and pleasing old ones by providing content and social interaction via mobile devices. The biggest challenge is that many museums do not quite know where to begin when working with a small budget and small staff with limited technical knowledge.
Contributed by Phil Katz, Assistant Director, Research, American Association of Museums
Good question, where does a museum begin to incorporate mobile technology?! I think the answer lies in web-based services.
As Blogger did for blogging and Facebook and Twitter for social networking, internet-based services will come along that make mobile technology affordable, feasible and accessible to anyone — including any museum — with a computer, internet connection and a cell phone. Once this happens (and it is beginning to happen already with us at Open Museum), it will be possible for a museum to provide cell phone audio tours to visitor and extend their outreach by making it possible for visitors to share the object with their social network and bookmark it for further viewing and sharing later.