Innovation: Technology and Trends in museums

This post will discuss 1 technology and 1 key trend in museums.


Definition of Museum: term applied to zoos, historical sites, botanical gardens, aquariums, planetariums, children’s museums, and science and technology centers (US DoJ, 2009)

Museum Edition: Key trend: Short-term trend: Driving Ed Tech adoption in museums for the next one to two years

With the introduction of mobile technology, increasing in processing speed every year and the introduction of Artificial Reality (AR) through Pokémon Go, there is a huge opportunity to create discoverable museums displays serviceable through mobile devices (CNET, 2016; New Horizons, 2016; Bonnington, 2015). The AR technology uses the mobile device camera and interlaces pocket monster’s called Pokémon in real time through some creative coding, therefore through a mobile device these Pokémon are made visible, even though they do not exist (CNET, 2016). Mobile devices are not just for gaming they have become the primary computing device for most people across the globe as well as a primary way to access information (Bonnington, 2015; New Horizons, 2016).  Adding in, Pokémon Go’s added benefit, which promotes end users to walk to key areas have been designated to be either Pokestops (for getting key items for game play) or Pokémon Gym (to either build up a team’s gym or take it down) therefore enhancing the experience (CNET, 2016).  It is projected that in the next 5-years mobile devices could have enough processing power to handle 4K streaming, immersive virtual reality gaming, and seamless multi-tasking (Bonnington, 2015).  Therefore, creating a new museum experience using an AR system similar to Pokémon Go, with interactive museum displays similar to Pokestops or Pokémon Gyms could become a reality, enhance exploration, interpretation, and sharing.  This would essentially be a more interactive self-guided virtual tour, similar to what has been implemented in the Broad Museum in Los Angeles and is a prioritized strategy for San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (New Horizons, 2016).  If we can centralize/core up all of the museums into one interface similar to what Israel is doing with their museums (so far they have represented 60 museums), we could see bigger adoption rates (Museums in Israel, n.d.). According to New Horizons (2016), hyper zoom features on particular displays, gamification, location-based services, AR, ad social networking integration can increase patron’s experiences.  This area all aspects that Pokémon Go is trying to promote through their mobile device game.

Forces that impact the trend

  • Technological: There is a need to update the WiFi Infrastructure in museums to handle the increase in demand, which is a key force negatively impacting this technology (New Horizons, 2016; Government of Canada, n.d.). Though, computer codes and infrastructure designs are becoming more open source which is a force of positive impact.
  • Safety: There is added need to improve design and flow of a museum to accommodate distracted patrons using this new AR system.
  • Cultural: Museums at one point use to ban cameras, but now with many mobile devices and the proposed AR system above, it would be hard to enforce now (New Horizons, 2016). Also, given the fact that museums are wanting to increase participation.

Museum Edition: Technology: Improving Accessibility for Disabled populations

One in 10 people lives with a disability or approximately 0.65 Billion people (Disabled World, n.d.).  It is imperative and ethical that museums create exhibits for all their patrons. Deviations from societal norms have caused people with disabilities in the past to be considered as signs of divine disapproval, with the end thoughts and actions stating that they need to be fixed (Grandin, 2016), when there is nothing wrong with them, to begin with.  A few of the many areas for improvements with technology are:

  • Websites and online programming: making them more accessible and eliminating barriers through the incorporation of universally good design (New Horizons, 2016; Grandin, 2016).
  • Addressing Article 30 of the UN Disability Convention: Implementing technology to allow enjoyed access to performances, exhibits, or services (UN, 2006). This would allow, encourage, and promote all people to participate to the fullest extent possible (New Horizons, 2016; UN, 2006).
  • Use of software to create alternative formats for printed brochures: Braille, CDs, large print (US DoJ, 2009). Also, using that same software to create Braille exhibit guides (New Horizons, 2016).
  • Using closed captions for video displays (New Horizons, 2016).

An excellent way to test universally good design is for museums to partner with disabled students to test their design’s usability and provided meaningful feedback (New Horizons, 2016). Essentially, one way to approach universally good design is to ask the three questions (Wyman, Timpson, Gillam, & Bahram, 2016):

  1. “Where am I?”
  2. “Where can I go from here?”
  3. “How can I get there?” or “How can I make that happen?”


Forces that impact the technology

  • Educational: There is a lack of disability responsiveness training by the staff of a museum, which is leading to a lack of knowledge of best practices, how best to serve the disable population, etc. (New Horizons, 2016).
  • Financial: Lack of resources to design or even implement new programs for people with disabilities is a key force negatively impacting this technology (New Horizons, 2016; Grandin, 2016). However, the best designs are simple, intuitive, flexible, and equitable, therefore making accessible design a universally good design (Grandin, 2016; Wyman et al., 2016). How do museums know about universally good design? Museums are able to accomplish this by working with the disable community and advocacy organizations (New Horizons, 2016). So, as museums begin making their updates on exhibits, or to their building, they should take into account accessible design. For people with disabilities, a universally good design is one where there is no additional modifications are needed for them (Grandin, 2016).


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