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Manual Content Navigation

Page history last edited by Nancy Proctor 15 years, 11 months ago

Manual Content Navigation


PDAs and other screen-based multimedia players can support keypads and other visual interfaces to allow visitors to access tour content manually, either by selecting an icon or typing a number on the touch-sensitive screen, or by using the device’s hard buttons. Some PDAs include programmable hard buttons or even an alphanumeric keypad; other solutions simply display graphic keypads on the screen, and users type in their selections with their fingers or a stylus. Visual interfaces include maps, room reconstructions, thumbnail icons and other menus whether text, graphic or image-based.


The majority of audio-visual tour projects both currently and in the past have used manual content navigation. In one of the earliest and most influential handheld projects for the ‘Points of Departure’ exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, visitors found the thumbnail images used as links to information on specific artworks in the tour’s interface to be clear and easy to recognize. (Smith, 2001, p. 116) Xeroc Parc’s team carefully assessed location-based technologies when designing their tour of Filioli House in Woodbridge, California, and considered IR triggering at room thresholds. They concluded, “proximity-based approaches would probably not give the user the information they wanted in the vast majority of cases.” (Aoki and Woodruff, p. 5) As a result, this project used a purely visual interface to information in each historic room; in photographic representations of each wall, the visitor could touch selected ‘hyperlinked’ objects with their stylus to trigger further information on that object or aspect of the decor. Wall views were changed using the device’s hard buttons to pan right or left around the room. Feedback from visitors confirmed, “visual selection is a viable alternative that allows visitors to quickly and easily select objects that interest them.” (Woodruff et al., 2001, p. 1)


At Tate Modern, a keypad interface replaced early experiments with WLAN location-based content delivery, making the tour more familiar to visitors from their previous uses of audio tours. This instant recognition proved to be essential to the successful operations of the multimedia tour of the blockbuster Frida Kahlo exhibition in 2005, where staff have only a few seconds to distribute tours and instruct visitors in their use, and is also fully accessible to Deaf users of Tate Modern’s Multimedia British Sign Language Highlights Tour. The J. Paul Getty Museum is also currently making a multimedia tour of the exhibition,Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits, available as a locally-stored, manually-triggered tour using a thumbnail- driven interface. Visitors can download the tour to their own PDAs from the Getty website as well as pick it up at the exhibition. (http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/rembrandt/download.html) 


For sighted visitors, therefore, visual interfaces using the touch-screen of a handheld device can be a user-friendly and cost-effective solution for navigating through the tour. At the very least, it is a good idea to design audio-visual with tours multiple ways of accessing content in case one method fails, either because of technology or a visitor’s particular needs or proclivities. (Aoki and Woodruff, p. 7; see also the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s current PDA project) Some 

 solutions have been developed for users with low-vision, including hard button overlays and designs for raised, rubber overlays for the device’s touch-sensitive screen; however, it may be precisely in the area of accessibility that other location-based technologies such as Bluetooth will justify their greater technical complexity and cost over simple manual navigation.  

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