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IoT in Museums Engaging Patrons

Created on May 19, 2015

Museums are critical institutions that are woven into the cultural fabric of a city, community and society. Some museums like the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, etc. have even reached fame and recognition on a global scale. According to the Washington Post, there are 35,000 museums in the US alone – by comparison there are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants. However, by many measures, the implementation and use of technology, such as mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), to engage patrons is underdeveloped in many museums. IoT in museums can be very powerful.

With the advent of the mobile age, where seemingly every man, woman and child can no longer go anywhere without their smartphones, it only seems logical for museums to take advantage of the phenomenon to benefit patrons.

Let us examine four distinct use cases for using mobile oriented technologies within museums.

  • Beacons – headset (Use Case A)
  • Sensors collect data (Use Case B)
  • Mobile app (Use Case C)
  • E-commerce opportunities based on #2 (Use Case D)

One common way of engaging consumers has been the use of rental headsets to provide commentary of various exhibits. See Figure 1. This technology is not only antiquated but museums miss out on valuable opportunities to engage their patrons within and outside the museum. They also are unable to collect valuable data and create new avenues for e-commerce revenues. Fast forward to 2015 and here’s how we, at NetObjex, would leverage our Internet of Things (IoT) technology to assist museums so that they can become state of the art without breaking the bank:

(Customer Service) IoT technology in Theme Parks Helps Identify Areas of Improvement

Theme park managers can utilize IoT applications to attain predictive analytics on park activities and traffic. Customers can opt in to transmit data, which can be collected for internal analysis. A Big Data solution would enable park managers to sift through the gathered data. Key insights can identify opportunities for improved efficiency.

An IoT implementation combined with guest-generated data can help park management uncover areas for improvement, such as previously unknown obstacles to the flow of guests. Data collected from IoT devices can provide a foot traffic map for managers to analyze speed patterns and identify bottlenecks. This information can aid with crowd control as well.

  • Ensure the museum has first rate Wifi coverage. This will enable easier communication with patrons and facilitate data collection.
  • Next, use our SpotObjex beacons, Internet of Things devices, (Use Case A) with the exhibits – usually 1 beacon per exhibit.
  • Place sonar and motion sensors (Use Case B) per exhibit. This will help detect if a patron is in close proximity of the exhibit.
  • Associate beacons with content for the respective exhibit, e.g. audio, video, text, images, using our simple Point & Click IoT Platform as a Service (IoT PaaS).
  • Build a library mobile app (Use Case C) on iOS and Android platforms, which patrons can download from the respective Apple and Google app stores, and access for free. Make the app useful and easy to use. Patrons will listen to the content for each exhibit using their headsets based on patron input or beacons sensing users coming into the proximity of an exhibit and playing back relevant content, even activities. The apps will be beacon / sensor-friendly and serve as powerful data capture mechanisms for museum administration.
  • Use the NetObjex Analytics dashboard within our IoT PaaS to visualize the engagement statistics gathered on how many patrons engaged with which exhibit, for how long, etc. Use the statistics to create recommendations on:
    • a) What coupons and offers to present to the user for redemption at museum store (Use Case D)
    • b) Which exhibits are “working” and which aren’t – this may drive decisions such as floor plan or exhibit placement or curation.

NetObjex provides an ideal Museum IoT Platform solution to enable institutions to better connect with patrons, enhancing their experience and even providing opportunities for participation.

We have discussed a number of innovative and interesting ways in which mobile and Internet of Things technologies from NetObjex can help museums engage patrons more effectively and make the museum experience more enjoyable for audiences. What IoT, mobile or other technologies will your institution implement to enhance the patron experience?

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