AMITIAE - Friday 18 April 2014

Cassandra: iBeacon Potential - Kirk Bowe on Dynamic Museum Guides

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I have become rather interested in the iBeacon technology and its deployment. While this is gathering steam in the US and some other countries like Australia, the technology has seen little use in Thailand so far. I have, however, managed to find a couple of locations where it appears iBeacons are installed, but have yet to identify who (store, restaurant, mall) may be using these. In the last couple of days I also managed to track an iBeacon location near the Wongwianyai BTS station, so they are coming.

A recent item by creative technologist, Kirk Bowe, examines the potential of the use of iBeacon technology in the museum, "to ensure a meaningful integration with the exhibition experience."

In January this year I visited a couple of dams in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province with Senior Year Electrical Engineering students. As part of the weekend trip each year the students attend a lecture on the dam workings and other related information and we all walk into the underground sections of the dam. All rather noisy; but most interesting.

The first dam we went to this year was the Srinakarin Dam near Tha Kradan and the Erawan Waterfalls on the Kwae Yai River. Although I had visited this dam many times when I used to ride motorcycles, this was the first time I had been inside the administrative and technical sections.

Srinakarin Dam

I was impressed by the quality of a new building containing the lecture theatre where we were told not only about the dam, along with its history and workings, but about care of the environment, with particular emphasis on preserving species. I then noted,

After the movies we walked through an impressive gallery that showed much information about the efforts EGAT was making. It was so unexpected and a lot of thought has gone into the presentation of the displays.

As part of the experience, students were given tablet computers with preinstalled movies and other data, activated by QR codes. The students were not sure, but thought the tablets had a version of Android installed. It was another well-thought out part of the whole presentation.

Srinakarin Dam

Srinakarin Dam

Applying Bowe's ideas to the exhibits at the Electricity Generating Authority gallery, could increase the way students and other interested visitors were able to perceive the displays and better ensure that (in this case) the message about the environment was fully absorbed.

Bangkok also now has a useful Art Gallery, bearing a similarity to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, at least on the inside. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre finally opened in 2008 after considerable political opposition. It is now quite popular particularly among young people who attend the exhibitions and take part in workshops. Also well-visited is the Alliance Française at 179 Thanon Witthayu (Wireless Road), where there is currently a show on the artistic uses of concrete.

Alcatraz Many of the shows held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre - for example a recent display of wildlife photography - would fit quite well with Bowe's ideas on storytelling, particularly if the languages available could be expanded.

Establishments like Alcatraz Jail had hand-held devices that put out a running commentary as visitors walked through the cell areas many years ago, so an integration of this, the text descriptions and images - all activated by iBeacon proximity sensors as described by Bowe in his article - would improve the overall experience of most visitors (in Alcatraz as well as Bangkok).

See also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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