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The Digital Guide: Empowering the Museum Visitors of Bibliotheca Alexandrina Museum with Handheld Computing


19-09-2006

Latest technology enriches the museum experience with on-demand, contextual information

On September 19, 2006, a new service was offered to the museum visitors of Bibliotheca Alexandria. The Digital Guide – a handheld computing device that contains content created by the Center for the Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage in Egypt (CULTNAT) and empowered with IBM’s latest technology – represents the next generation of assistive technology in museums, offering a rich, multimedia experience to complement the extraordinary objects on display.

The Digital Guide represents a huge step towards bringing the virtual museum inside the physical museum by offering digital, contextual information where it is most needed and useful: on the floor of the museum. It provides museum visitors with visual, oral, and textual information on artifacts and the Egyptian history in which they are embedded. Visitors can use the Digital Guide to request specific information about objects or they can select from one of a variety tours. All content is provided in three languages: English, French, and Arabic.

A typical visitor experience with the Digital Guide involves listening to the tour narration on a headset, viewing images of object details and places on the screen, and interacting with animation that seek to demonstrate concepts not easily grasped in the physical museum. Visitors can dive deeply into the content on a particular object or theme or they can keep a high-level overview of the objects as they move through the galleries. The Digital Guide is self-paced and highly interactive, allowing great flexibility in the amount and kind of information that is retrieved by visitors with different needs.