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Futurist Friday: Cognitive Museum Buildings

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
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Here’s a short video from Jonathan Strickland of Forward Thinking on the emergence of “cognitive buildings”: structures that use the internet of things (IoT) to analyze performance and anticipate our needs.  

Jonathan’s only direct mention of museums is a poke at the Louvre’s AC, but much of what he says is directly applicable to our field. Cognitive energy conservation? Approve.  Automatically turning off the lights when people aren’t in storage or galleries–also a conservation win. 

But the applications that intrigue me most are touched on at the very end of the video. Could a cognitive computing program (like IBM Watson, cited here) monitor visitor tweets from museums around the world and, comparing that to a database on museum architecture, draw some higher level conclusions about what works and doesn’t work in museum design? 

Or imagine a critical mass of museums hooked into the IoT, tracking visitors through the galleries and amenities, monitoring route and dwell times, even using facial recognition software or the MAC address of phones to monitor the patterns and experiences of individuals. That network would generate incredibly valuable information, not only for the individual museums, but for the field as a whole. Reporting attendance? Pssssh, not a problem. How about global A/B testing on various components of exhibit design, wayfinding or retail? 

Your Futurist Friday assignment: take four minutes to hear what Jonathan has to say, and come up with your own ideas for what a cognitive building might “think about” for museums. Share your thoughts below, or with a tweet tagging both Jonathan (@jonstrickland) and @futureofmuseums.


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One thought on “Futurist Friday: Cognitive Museum Buildings

  1. Short-term project I would love – if buildings could aggregate energy and water use so that we could benchmark museums' use within the field, so that 1) institution managers can identify whom to contact with a similar building but an apparently more efficient approach, and 2) so that EPA/EnergyStar can create a category for museum-types that institutions can use so much more easily for compliance with LEED certification data verification.

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