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Working Cross-Platform

Page history last edited by Nancy Proctor 11 years, 6 months ago

Some thoughts to start the conversation: 

 

From traditional audio tour to cellphones

Because budgets are always tight, we love the idea that content developed for one platform can easily and quickly be ported to another. The desire to save money by doing away with mobile devices and their distribution costs is one of the big motivators for museums to adopt cellphone tours, for example: the traditional audio tour content can simply be ported over to the IVR or VXML servers with minor if any content changes, and the museum is left with only content and perhaps some call costs to bear.

 

But I don't think it's that easy. If you've ever listened to an audio tour that was designed for a stereo MP3 player on a cell phone, chances are you noticed that the lower sound quality makes some voices more difficult to understand on the phone. Music and sound effects can muddy the communication rather than lend atmosphere and emotion to the message. And any defects in archival footage can render the audio frustrating to listen to on a phone.

 

I would argue that the ergonomics and economics of cellphones also mean that visitors will not experience a 45-60 minute immersive audio tour in the same way as those taking the tour on an iPod or museum-specific player. Unless visitors use headphones with their mobile phones, they are likely to get tired of holding the device to their ears for the entirety of a museum or exhibition tour. They may worry about running down their phone batteries, or using up minutes. Statistics on cellphone tour usage indicate that visitors use their phones sparingly for audio information in the galleries. The cellphone is ideal for quick, 'google' experiences (see SAAM's 'Soundtrack & Soundbite' case study) that allow visitors to get more information about an individual exhibit that has piqued their interest, but a 2006 study by Silvia Filippini-Fantoni of the David Smith exhibition cellphone tour at Tate Modern indicates that visitors who want a longer, sustained or immersive audio tour companion will opt for MP3 players instead for quality of sound and comfort of the experience.

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