How Mobility in Cultural Institutions Drives Innovation

by Anna Orlova

9 Oct 2014

Annual school excursions and occasional public events are, of course, good business for galleries and museums, but if you aim to draw customers all year round, introducing mobile technology is the right strategy. The new thrilling and engaging ways to view art and science that augmented reality and indoor location-tagging technologies bring to visitors help to preserve and increase the overall competitiveness of cultural institutions.

If you are ready to join the league of successful and innovative organizations, we recommend close consideration of the following mobile technologies because they can significantly enrich your visitors’ experience.

But first, which aspects of your customers’ experience can mobile apps enhance?

Mobility in cultural Institutions: When galleries and museums meet mobile

Mobile-based applications open a wide range of possibilities for the enhancement of visitors’ experiences. Mobile apps:

  • Provide useful information, such as opening hours, tours being offered, and help navigating inside buildings
  • Offer basic interpretations of art and objects along with additional content
  • Expand access for people with special needs; for example for visually impaired visitors
  • Provide useful information for people speaking foreign languages

Additional advantages of mobile apps embedded in museum visits include:

  • Ensuring greater cooperation with the public
  • Offering a more engaging visitor experience
  • Keeping cultural institutions informed about visitor demand
  • Increasing museum and gallery awareness
  • Attracting new visitors – both local and visiting tourists.

The following technologies are in use and can help you.

Tour management systems

With Expi, a multilingual audio tour platform developed by Azoft, or any other similar service, you do not need an app of your own but can create your guide using an intuitive tour management system. This service offers your customers a mobile interactive tour guide and gives you a tool to analyse the demographics, preferences, and opinions of your visitors.

Augmented reality

From commenting on art objects to presenting old artefacts in a new mind-blowing way, augmented reality is the number one innovative technology.

Secrets Behind Paintings
Sukiennice Museum

What will attract young people to a museum? Sukiennice Museum found the answer; paintings are brought to life and their stories told by using an AR app.

Beyond Planet Earth Augmented Reality App
American Museum of Natural History

Using the camera of an Apple device, museum visitors can activate AR icons of objects in the museum’s exhibits, such as a moon base, NASA's Curiosity Rover, and more, which unlock animations.

ROM Ultimate Dinosaurs
Royal Ontario Museum

The app brings dinosaur skeletons to life in the exhibit Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants of Gondwana.

Indoor location-tagging technologies


iBeacon is an indoor proximity system that relies on Bluetooth Low Energy technology available for iOS devices. Simply put, iBeacon is an “I’m-here” signal broadcast approximately once per second to other devices within range of the Bluetooth signal. It features several identifying characteristics so that mobile applications can distinguish ‘their’ iBeacons from a crowd. It is a great tool that allows visitors to determine a user’s position precisely via a mobile phone without excessively draining batteries through constant GPS usage.

Rubens House iBeacon App

An iBeacon app prototype breathes new life into the works of Peter Paul Rubens, thus challenging the standard way of interacting with classical art.

LED-Based Indoor Navigation System

An interesting indoor location solution offered by ByteLight has been implemented by the Museum of Science in Boston. This technology detects within seconds a person's position within one meter of accuracy. It uses LEDs with special chips that send a light signal to an iPad's camera, while calculating the other iPad user's location.

This technology is beneficial for both visitors and museum staff: museum visitors receive relevant digital content based on their location, and the museum staff collects data for further analysis, data such as foot traffic, behaviour patterns, average viewing time for each piece, etc.

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