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How Museums Are Embracing Digital Experiences To Keep Visitors Engaged

How Museums Are Embracing Digital Experiences To Keep Visitors Engaged
Arts & Culture

3D maps and in-app audio help users navigate and explore collections in comprehensive ways

Marielle Castillo
  • 3 may 2016

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is known for its interest in enhancing the museum-going experience. Its latest effort is an audio guide powered by the Apple Watch. Created in partnership with the startup Guidekick, this new tool is an expansion of the museum’s recent iPhone app, and anyone with an Apple Watch can hear recordings about the displays while exploring the museum.

Visitors can download the app onto their devices and Apple’s indoor positioning technology iBeacon locates them within the museum.

guidekick digital experiences

The watch vibrates as they approach galleries or exhibits where audio component is available. With the aid of headphones visitors can listen to a private audio guide, voiced by museum curators, who explaining the artwork, provide context and commentary on their personal favorites.

The museum currently has an Oscar de la Renta retrospective, but that is just one of the five exhibits with Guidekick tours. The technology will be available in the future for the permanent collection and other visiting exhibits. Right now the app runs on iOS devices only, but an Android version is expected to launch later this year.

deyoung-guidekick.jpg
While audio tours aren’t new, the de Young is one of the first museums to use wearables for this purpose. According to the museum’s director and COO Richard Benefield, “the watch acts as an invisible tour guide, delivering information in real time so visitors don’t have to look away from the art itself.”

The technology also provides data about visitors’ behavior, like which pieces get the most traffic and attention and for how long, which could be useful for the museum in the future.

de Young Museum | Guidekick

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