A Smartphone Headset for Augmented Reality Experiences in Museums (Booth 8)

Daniela De Angeli, University of Bath, UK, Eamonn O'Neill, University of Bath, UK

Published paper: A smartphone headset for augmented-reality experiences in museums

Museums are increasingly researching new ways to tell stories, engage, entertain, and educate a heterogeneous group of visitors. In particular, the rapid rise of mobile devices suggests new possibilities for museums, but it also raises new issues. On one hand, mobile devices are personal, portable, and often available since the majority of visitors carry their own devices within the museum. On the other hand, mobile devices can disrupt the visit, limiting both social and physical interaction with other visitors and artifacts. Above all, visitors need to hold the devices in their hands, which can be tiring and limit the possibilities for other hands-on activities. Wearable devices such as headsets can mitigate this problem. Indeed, they have such potential that they have already made their way into museums: they are personal, portable, follow the visitor through the museum experience, and don’t need to be held.

This paper proposes a wearable augmented-reality (AR) headset aimed at enriching the museum experience. The headset consists of a lightweight transparent frame that holds the smartphone on the top instead of in front of the user’s eyes. Since visitors will use their own mobile devices, the purchase and maintenance costs for the museum will be limited. A visitor will simply need to download an application and put her smartphone on the top of the headset frame. Content from the device’s screen will be projected on a transparent surface in front of the visitor’s eyes. This paper will describe the development of the wearable device, as well as its potential applications in supporting and augmenting a museum visit.

During the past five years I have collaborated as a web, graphic and interactive designer with museums in USA, Italy and UK. I have recently graduated in Media Arts and Computer Science at the New Mexico Highlands University in USA. Currently, I am an EngD (Engineering Doctorate) at the Centre for Digital Entertainment in Bath where I am researching the impact of mobile devices on people’s attention in the museum context.

Key Publications:
Museum&Web Florence (2014)
The Gustave Baumann Marionettes - Surfacing a Rare Collection through Interaction