Mobile guides have become ubiquitous in museums, but questions persist about their impact on visitor experience in terms of visitors looking down at their device, rather than up at the display. Oxford University Museums have conducted a research and development project to explore how mobile devices could be used to encourage and facilitate ‘heads up’ engagement.
We have developed new mobile interactives that rely less on the mobile screen and more on other capabilities of the phone: sensors, image recognition, and bluetooth. Using these features we turn smartphones into surrogates for some of the objects on display, allowing visitors to physically try using some of our scientific apparatus and musical instruments.
Scott Billings is the Digital Engagement Officer at the Museum of Natural History. He leads on digital engagement at the Museum, a diverse role covering web and social media as well as gallery and exhibition interactives. He was previously Public Engagement Officer at the Museum of the History of Science. Scott is trained in museum education, has co-curated exhibitions, and has been a design and cultural heritage journalist and freelance copywriter.
Ted Koterwas is the Web and Mobile Applications Lead at the University of Oxford’s IT Services. He leads the web and mobile applications team and has collaborated with the museums on a number of their recent mobile projects. He has worked creatively with technology since before phones had cameras, including directing the New Media exhibit development team at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Jessica Suess is the Digital Partnership Manager at Oxford University Museums. She is part of a small joint museums team that coordinates collaborative activity across the four Oxford University Museums. Leading on digital, she develops and manages digital projects, and pushes forward strategic initiatives to enable more collaborative IT and Digital approaches across the museums and division.