Unknown Speaker 00:00
All right. All right, I'm ready. If you're ready,
Unknown Speaker 00:02
I am super ready. So we are literally the last session of MCN. Am I'm right. Thank you for sticking with us. Thank you, we're gonna have a good conversation, I hope that we live in a high note for you. Yeah, so
Unknown Speaker 00:15
really excited to chat about one of the most exciting, vibrant topics of all time. Wayfinding. Today, it's something it's a problem we all know we have. And it seems like even though technology is changing everything, and they're going to be flying cars next year, we'll still have trouble finding the bathroom and still have trouble finding the main exhibitions. So we're going to talk a little bit about a couple different aspects. We're gonna give you a quick history of Wayfinding. And museums, we are going to jump into the work that you've been doing at the Detroit Institute of Arts and then I'll talk a little bit about what my team has been doing and exploring new forms of Wayfinding. And then a bunch of big, beefy, chunky questions. Sound good? Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Cool. Well, just to start us off with a great little quote about how easy it is to get lost. I love this quote, by Mark Twain, the compass in my head has been out of order from my birth, it's very clear, regardless of education level, or just about age, anything, it's tremendously easy to get lost in a museum. And so it's, frankly, safe to say museums are labyrinth, this actually is a labyrinth that wasn't a museum in DC. But you know, regardless of the best signage in the world, the best app in the world, there are always going to be obstacles, because of just the way these buildings were constructed and evolved over time. So we thought it would would be helpful and fruitful to do like a quick, very short flash through, as you know, we work in museums, and we look back to know how to proceed for like, what are the different approaches that have historically taken place, but even before that, I want you to know how real of a problem is, it's made it into dozens of children's books, the amount of books that exist that relate to being lost in the museum. And that being a place of anxiety or torture or terror is is very, very alive. And well, there's probably a movie about it also. So moving on to the moving on to where you know where we've been, and where we're going to go. Do you want to talk a little about some of the earliest forms of wayfinding
Unknown Speaker 02:23
Oh, guys, it was Friday or museum, lung surgery. Within our museum, we've had three major expansions. So you can only imagine what that does to the wayfinding aspect, right? So the first building, first of all, it was back when design was not around how people necessarily move within the building. So or very, very first building was already a little bit hard to navigate. And then there was one medium size expansion, but then in 2007, we concluded an expansion that tripled the size of the institution. Yeah, at that point, or whenever.
Unknown Speaker 02:57
Yeah, so so just even looking back, you would have been handed a fairly user friendly form of wayfinding material. And then even before that, like looking back historically, I found that most museums, you know, didn't even have any form of signage. And I was able to compare and contrast gallery shots from like, 100 years ago to today, and see even that shift. So this is how people used to, you know, make their way around the museum and beautiful outfits might I add, and then came the museum guide, like a printed pamphlet. So I was able to find some instances from the Smithsonian Institute. These guys, these things are a hot commodity on eBay. So if you want to, like save for your retirement, save all these things, it'll be worth like $3.50, you know, in a couple of years, but yeah, eBay is a great resource for finding people who hold on to these materials. And then looking at the Met you know, it slices it dices it even folds, people got pretty sophisticated and are like, Hey, let's create a lightweight folding map. And then, you know, the evolution came to digital. So probably seen really great examples of physical wayfinding assistance, you know, talk about a challenge there is that they're not dynamic. They're in one language that can be confusing in their own right. Some museums have used directories Do you guys have like some level of directory,
Unknown Speaker 04:16
we have some directories but because of it is difficult to navigate even with those directories. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 04:23
yeah. And then moving on. There are some sophisticated approaches with kiosks. This example was from the Asian Art Museum, which I think was presented a year or two ago at museums in the web, or MCN. But kind of getting one step forward of saying, and I can only imagine like the board conversations, like I was at an airport and I saw this really great kiosk, why can't we have one I can just like hear it in my head what the conversation was, you know, we've seen examples like that, then surely mobile has so much power at play given all of the you know, sensors and inputs and and you know, the fact that it's very personal and in the hands of the visiter so we're gonna really dive into that area, you know around Blue Dot before the the work that you guys were doing with Tango. Was there a blue dot solution?
Unknown Speaker 05:10
Available? Not at all, I will say that. While we did with augmented reality reality really was a first try moving something like this digital and it was a test. So it's been a three year experiment.
Unknown Speaker 05:22
So if anyone here has experimented with any form of Wayfinding, or mapping, has it been the blue dot approach indoor or outdoor? If you'd raise your hands, if that's something that your organization's experimented with, or had in place? All right, gotcha. Gotcha, gotcha. Cool. That's, that's really good to know. And you know, what we're going to now dive into now that you have kind of the abbreviated history of Wayfinding, from the printed map of the Victorian era, to today, my partner over here and CO presenter will share some examples of what they've been up to in Detroit. So yeah,
Unknown Speaker 05:59
for those of us, maybe some of you made it to this session I put together a couple of weeks ago in reporting this, but this has been a three year project within the museum, and we were trying to address a couple of things. So the first one was to meet our content need. But this type of technology was experimenting around with indoor Wayfinding. So we've been that that's our museum a long, long, long time ago. So we've been experimenting with indoor Wayfinding, once again, the so this, now we use a handheld device, this has been the very, very early days in which we were setting up how we were going to manage this. But what you're seeing on the screen is an augmented reality layer on top of a mummy that uses persistence technology to understand his position in space, meaning that is you can move around and the digital object is locked in space. And he uses an extra sensor and an extra camera. So this was Project Tango, I don't know if any of you are familiar with it. But this was a project that started like four years ago, it was kind of killed about a year ago. And then the consequences of that. So we failed. And I'll talk a little bit about that. Is uses augmented reality as a layer. So you basically you you follow it, and then it takes you from point A to point B, in the first year, we tested only in the stops where we had content. So this was about seven steps. And then in a later iteration, we are at points of interest. And I have stuff to say about how that work. But yeah, that's what we were testing.
Unknown Speaker 07:33
So I guess talk a little bit about working, you know, with one specific technology, and then the fact that kind of the carpet was pulled from under the feet, maybe around tango.
Unknown Speaker 07:43
So I think that we've had a really wonderful couple of sessions specifically addressing these ramsI. And which is fascinating to see that, you know, it was great and comforting to say we're not the only ones facing situations like this. But I understand that different museums are approached by different technologies. And because of how rapidly things are moving because of the demands that happen. You can this can happen to you. Emerging Technology comes with a risk. We knew that augmented reality was in the future. And we believed in that. But we knew that startup technologies can be a little bit less reliable. And at this point, we've had a transition right now. So in a moment of transition technologies. Now, this is not to say that purchases technology is not going anywhere. Specifically tango. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 08:29
one little quick tidbit. And I first saw this in Vermont for the who knows the ice cream company, Ben and Jerry's. So they create a lot of flavors, and they kill off a lot of flavors. They physically have a flavor graveyard, where they have headstones for every single flavor that they've killed off of the year. And there's this really humorous website, I think it's like Google killed it.com or something like that, where they have tombstones of all of the different things that they've launched and taken away. Tango certainly being one of them. But yeah, I think, to talk about some of the things that you've learned specifically.
Unknown Speaker 09:03
So I'm not gonna dive too much into the content of the experience. I leave that to the side. Well, let's talk a little bit about the Wayfinding. So you have to contextualize that, like technology was not mature when we were first applying it with the content, Gunter God, like 90 plus percent in reviews really, really positive reviews. Wayfinding was what came in lower. As technology progressed, this has been evolving. So where technology is today, we're still using Tango until we find a replacement for it. But in the meantime, we've been able to adjust. It is not a perfect experience, but it's not a frustrating experience anymore, like it was three years ago. And as we know that technology is finally catching up with us. I actually have a really interesting comment from the careers of Pokemon Go. They were sharing along the lines of You know what, sometimes technologies two years ahead I have good content. And I think that that's not necessarily the case and museums, we have sometimes really, really solid content, and good dreams, technology sometimes has to catch up with us. But we found out and that was clear, even in the most frustrating of the experiences that it does not have to be perfect to be meaningful people were still having really meaningful experiences.
Unknown Speaker 10:20
Can you talk a little bit about your experiences working specifically with the biggest of the big Google or alphabet or whatever they're called these days?
Unknown Speaker 10:28
Well, this isn't my childhood rule. No, I think that you just have to understand who they are truly working for, like whether goals are, are they deserve your public? Or are they to test a platform? So I think that that's a question that you need to ask yourself, and that's not necessarily you have to shut it down, because they are gonna test a platform you you can use that, but you need to be aware of that, too. plan accordingly. So we adjusted to that in some ways.
Unknown Speaker 10:59
And what what do you think is the fine line museums, I guess, large museums, mid sized museums, and small small sized museums should walk around working with emerging technology. I know it was a big topic on the first day here with the Microsoft plenary, what are your personal thoughts on that?
Unknown Speaker 11:16
My personal thoughts is content first, technology. Second, I think that how I will explain this is focus on creating incredible content and dreaming of wonderful experiences, and then adapting those as technology come and goes. That way, if a platform is shut down, if you dream with a good experience, if you have a solid plan, you can then adjust to a different platform, or you can adjust on your partner.
Unknown Speaker 11:42
Awesome. Thanks, Andrea. Cool. So at this point, I'll talk a little bit about some of the work that my team has been doing in the area of augmented reality based Wayfinding, some of the tools that have been tried in the past kind of some of our perspective on this topic. And so just even looking at how AR has kind of leapfrogged forward, it's easier now than ever, for organizations to experiment with it, and free platforms and commercial platforms. And examples, like what you're able to do at Detroit Institute art are kind of like just the very beginning of what's the calm. And so kind of very philosophically, you know, my company, we think a lot about, you know, the, you know, the impact AR has on the visitor experience the museum's ability to create satisfactory or more engaging experience. So we kind of sum it up as if we think of the world as a book than AR is the digital magnifying glass, like it gives everybody their own way, their own lens of experiencing the content in different languages, sizes and contexts. And so then moving forward, we, you know, ran a little, let me see if I can pull this video up.
Unknown Speaker 12:50
As AR became, you know, very easy to implement within existing frameworks, we wanted to see if it was, you know, easy, stable, and reliable and meaningful to the end user to be able to simply hold up their device with really no interface, as a first step to, you know, really understanding if this was easy if it provide value, if it's something that people were interested in using. So kind of step one was like, how easy is it for the camera on the device to understand what it is looking at? And if that's good enough, what can we build on top of that. And so, some of these slides, if you were in the presentation yesterday, you know, there is some overlap, in looking specifically at Wayfinding. A lot of the incredible innovation right now is taking place in autonomous vehicles, self driving cars, and otherwise. And just as the sheer notion that AR can reduce the mental effort related to kind of what the physical view and the digital information, I think, is a great way of kind of a great way of summarizing, you know, summarizing some of those ideas that as we're going from like where I am, from a bird's eye view, to where I am with the direct path in front of me, just makes things almost impossible to get lost. And so applying that to the museum context and applying this notion that everything around us is being catalogued and a carbon copy of the physical world is being created as we speak, allows us to create new types of experiences where the hard heavy work is done for us in advanced, whether it be by the big technology companies or off the shelf tools that make it easier than ever and I know some of these ideas are kind of baked into tango and some of the new tech around the corner. So you might have seen, you know, last year, or earlier this year at the big Google Developer Conference that they showcased, what's the calm for Google Maps, that you would be able to kind of shift into an AR mode, where you could be guided through the streets, of course being cognizant and cautious about the people and obstacles around you through your camera lens, making it that much easier to know where left and right is, if you've ever been to New York City or any big city, it's really easy to get disoriented and not know, which, you know, is north and south when your directions tell you so so really, you know, kind of big steps from big tech are apparent there, but that's only outside right now. So what does that mean indoors where you don't have the same access to GPS and other you know, sensory information. So we you know, it as an experimenting, you know, very into experimenting kind of culture we have at museum, we wanted to see if we could use the visual information of a museum, you know, gallery to get someone from point A to point B, if we know where a painting is, we know where your absolute position is, we know your orientation, if that's on the east wall, for instance. And so we're able to build a solution that did not rely on beacons did not rely on Wi Fi and did not rely on GPS. And so it kind of points to this future where all of the things that have been incredibly cumbersome or expensive, are kind of pushed to the side, they're kind of yesterday's technology, because you know, getting the actual tangible infrastructure is incredibly expensive, and leave small museums and midsize museums kind of out in the cold. So looking at kind of the power of the camera, and what it creates, can create, it's really exciting to us. And so some of the things you've probably, if you've been to MCN, or have looked into the topic, like, you know, as early as Wi Fi has existed in museums, there have been people trying to leverage the the signal kind of filter, fingerprinting the building to, you know, implement some level of way fine, I think there was a an MCN presentation, you know, even over 10 years ago about how the Art Institute of Chicago was leveraging Wi Fi signal. For wayfinding purposes, four blue dot beacons came along. And there was a lot of excitement about how that, you know, kind of freed up a lot of capabilities with these small, inexpensive sensors. But they certainly weren't mature at the time, they you know, a lot has progressed. And then there are all sorts of, you know, new forms, like using LIDAR cameras that tie into a phone that gives positioning, those all rely kind of that top line that all relies on some level of hardware, hardware is expensive, and hardware quickly depreciates and becomes obsolete. So those are always going to be a challenge. And then there are things that came along that don't require any hardware that kind of create a new future where there are tools you can use, that allow you to basically leverage the Earth's magnetic field and the beams of your building, so essentially geomagnetic information, that your phone has to be able to help guide people around the museum or provide information that requires no hardware other than the hardware that already exists, Earth already exists, building already exists. And then dead reckoning basically, you know, anchoring to one point, and using the previous location to, you know, give the current location, so things in that area. And then lastly, machine vision, which is more in line with what I showed that video of leveraging what the camera has the ability to understand and see and react from. So there's been so many conversations around artificial intelligence and impact at museums. There's some amazing sessions yesterday, this kind of falls under the umbrella of the machine vision concept falls under the umbrella of AI. And so I've done a lot of research and experimentation and wrote a piece if anyone's interesting, interested in the topic about how AR is going to kill the maps blue dot that was VentureBeat renaming of the piece that I wrote a little bit of clickbait there. But if you're interested in kind of how we approach the problem, there are some resources online where we talk about, you know, the influences the challenges are a specific approach in the in the museum context. And so is this a new lens? Should there be a new lens? Should we have devices like this guiding our visitors around? These are all philosophical questions that museums are asking whether it be the digital team, the Visitor Services staff, or the director, and it's all going to be at the end of the day, what your visitor, you know, what helps your visitor achieve what they're looking to achieve? And that's to have a great experience at your museum. So, a couple questions here that we want to dive into, you know, if you want to jump on the first one is, you know, how will the phygital change the wayfinding experience kind of the the intersection of the physical world and the digital world?
Unknown Speaker 19:37
I think I'm glad you mentioned the physical world because I'm still really strong believer of redundancy when it comes to these types of matters. And I and I have I've had specific reasons why in is because I happen to be a person of color and I happen to come from communities that have been marginalized before so I know that it is they are people around me I I've worked with enough people in Detroit that either they do not have an access to a phone or if they do, they don't have an access to a really good data plan that can support certain experiences. So I'd say, Have that in mind as you're moving forward with projects. Because I personally like that is more like cab options so that your communities want to sin. But more than one option?
Unknown Speaker 20:26
Yeah. So it's, it's great that you bring that up, like the socio economic implications of tools like these is probably one of the last things on many people's minds. So that's a really important thing to mention. It's going to vary by your community and your philosophy on all of that. You know, is it inevitable? And I think you kind of answered that, Andrea? Like, is it inevitable that we'll always have printed maps and printed signage like even, you know, 50 years from now, when our glasses possess the capability of overlaying information?
Unknown Speaker 20:58
And I'm really excited to say that I have seriously no idea. I'm really excited to say that because this is 100% not up to us. This is 100% up to our audience and how they respond to us. So I think that worry will be bad if we were trying to prescribe and dictate what's going to be the only way. But being in the listener side, it's been pretty effective.
Unknown Speaker 21:21
Yeah, yeah. And I feel similarly that regardless of what technology is able to do, or printed, you know, map is able to do or printed signage that's on the actual physical building walls, you know, it's going to be preference oriented. If people like, if it's a number one priority to have someone walk them around, because they feel more comfortable, feels like museums are always going to need to, you know, play to those different options. Plus,
Unknown Speaker 21:46
understanding that you have different audiences with different learning, situations, skills, opportunities, so you have some people that will be very tech savvy, and will be literally expecting some pretty awesome tools there. And now you're gonna cut people that want nothing to do with technology.
Unknown Speaker 22:04
And then, you know, what does the next generation of experience look like when it's impossible to get lost, if that ever is the case, where you know, the, the tools are sophisticated enough, and the accuracy is there, I know that we've all struggled with, you know, accurate readings for showing people where they are and getting them to where they are. So it feels like an impossibility. But we know someday, given everything that's happening around us, and additionally, with like Moore's law, that it will someday be like down to the centimeter accurate, might not be today might be five years or 10 years, but it will be come for someone using these tools impossible to get get lost. So does that
Unknown Speaker 22:42
that's fascinating. Isn't that crazy thought is greater thought? And I love how crazy that is? I'd say that. I have no idea. But it's a really interesting situation. And I wonder if it will be kind of like when we got access to all information via internet? Like, I wonder if there's any relationships that will happen translated to that, that once you're 100% able, and I wonder less about how that affects you moving around as much as if you did not have the doors call, you still move around? You know what I mean? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 23:15
yeah, one of the interesting things, I was talking to a couple of people yesterday, who were sharing some of their net promoter score, the implications of getting lost or the implications of getting arriving at a closed gallery, or something that was supposed to be open that's been blocked off for like a gala. And that basically, you know, had such a negative impact where it's like, when these things come to be, and it might be five years from now the ability to like smart reroute someone to an area if there's too many people. And if we know for a fact, when there's too many people and someone can't see the painting, or whatever the specific thing that they're hoping to see is that they have a negative reaction. It just is human nature. Do you see a day when we'll get there?
Unknown Speaker 24:01
You know, another you mentioned it, that's super interesting, because I think that happened with internet, you know, there was a point in which everybody was doing internet pages no matter what, and there was a, we've gone through that process, right, in which we're curator, curating the content a little more closely, so that it is effective. So I wonder if once we have all of the tools. So at that point, how we're curating that experience, I can think so you're getting into more curating that way finding is experienced? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 24:29
Because it feels like if all the technical challenges are eliminated, you have like so much free mental space to think about the things that actually matter. You know,
Unknown Speaker 24:38
I have one post apocalypse, first tech apocalyptic thought here, which is, and it might never happen, but I wonder how humans evolve in like, if not doing certain skills. Now your brain is evolving to adapt to your world in new ways, and I am no longer to remember the phone numbers of my friends. So I wonder how that translates into this.
Unknown Speaker 24:58
Yeah, that's interest. Good. Well, and you know, I think this is kind of pointing in that five year 10 year timeframe. Like right now we're talking a lot about the technology of today, the emerging technology. Now being fully aware that we want to protect ourselves from locking into things that might become obsolete might die, might change and have content that can live on forever, in whatever form. So like, a lot of people are looking to, you know, smart glasses. And you know, when that day comes, and I know some folks have said, like, five years, 10 years, some people are pushing for next year. Who knows, I think there's like a, no one will ever know what the answer is there. But what will the conversations be at like the board level, you know, when the director is like, I don't want these things in the gallery, or the directors like, these are great. My niece got me a pair. And now more than everything around me,
Unknown Speaker 25:50
I'm a further because of the marketing push that we will be dealing much more with focusing on ethically managing what we're presenting to people in that way, you know, because you know, just like augmented reality, some curators are getting really excited for it to be a dumping ground of literally all materials available. You say it's a question that I have.
Unknown Speaker 26:12
Yeah, that's an interesting question. And that's, that's, you know, that's it. That's where we'll end the conversation. Actually, this is the beginning of the end. And we'll jump into some questions and hear your thoughts, because
Unknown Speaker 26:26
I'll give you just one state one last statement, which is I am super excited the for all of us to be prepared of how the world is changing pretty pretty rapidly. And here's one of the things that is inevitable. I know that we're addressing this type of technology, so it's really good to dive into it as well as again,
Unknown Speaker 26:43
excellent. Yes, even as your magnetic and that recording, waste of, you know, to, like technology solutions. Can you name any examples that you can
Unknown Speaker 27:07
recall? Yeah, a lot of so the ones the two primary spaces where I'm seeing just unbelievable amounts of indoor wayfinding examples coming from or going to the airports and malls. And so there is a company, and I'm not appear to like name drop vendors and stuff like that. But it's, it's helpful. There's a company called indoor Atlas, and they are one of the companies paving the way or leading the way around the electromagnetic, if you go on their website, it's mostly airports. So I think like Miami International Airport, and mall, the Mall of America and like really large spaces where we finding is, you know, tremendous challenge that they that they want to overcome. And then there's, you know, their revenue driven venues. So there's also the economics of it. But um, yeah, that specific company, I think if you Google them, you'll find a lot of interesting inputs. And then just like Wayfinding, in general, I say it because I see your Warsaw sticker, like, there are a couple of companies in Poland that are creating really, really transformational location based technologies like Estimote, in contact, a company called sell their that I think, is on the Warsaw Stock Exchange as a lot of like, really cool, indoor wayfinding and positioning technologies coming out of Poland. But I only say that, because I see you have a Warsaw sticker. Yeah. On your laptop doesn't require that hardware. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 28:32
it's just for the most museums in Poland is just way too expensive.
Unknown Speaker 28:37
For sure. Yeah. That's, and
Unknown Speaker 28:40
I was just wondering, maybe I think there might be a difference between Europe, Poland and us. Do you know, what's the percentage of their smartphones, their mobile devices that support that AR technology that you've been presenting? Um, this is an issue.
Unknown Speaker 29:01
So it's going to vary, I don't have an exact number. But the adoption curve on for instance, iOS devices, the example that I showed there, it'd be easy enough to find that number and tweet it or post it. So I don't have a hard number there. But it's probably going to be any type of device within the last two years. So I think for like AR kit, which is one of the underlying frameworks, it's like, don't quote me on this. I think it's like iOS six s and newer. Like if you have a six that won't work but success in newer. But there are things that aren't AR kit, and there are things that like the electromagnetic thing isn't going to be reliant on the camera view, for instance,
Unknown Speaker 29:45
and that is that something worth to say that an in or specific case if it's helpful, we realized that the technology we're using was not mature enough. So we are aware that the technology is not perfect yet. But it is important to start understanding at and dive in with the companies that are probably further into that research in application. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 30:08
And a lot of them I feel are super hungry to work with cultural organizations, because so many of their use cases are completely uninspiring. So I would imagine that things like partnering with the Detroit Institute of Art was probably a really, really exciting prospect for Google and just even seeing the stuff that Apple's doing now with their art tours, to really get people jazzed up. I think museums have an opportunity to, you know, to be that to be that inspiration. Art tours? Yeah, yeah. So there are these AR art tours with prominent contemporary artists like Nick Cave, but they're only available in certain cities. So stuff like that, because big tech has a lot. They've done a lot of bad in the last couple of years, and people are kind of up in arms. And I think I'm trying to fool us that they care. My thoughts aside, so let me look at Facebook, Spark. Facebook, has partnered with the Tate or the National Gallery.
Unknown Speaker 31:09
I want to say the National Guard. Yeah, that's the that's the make
Unknown Speaker 31:13
us forget about all of the stuff that we know.
Unknown Speaker 31:19
And if he's in any way, any help, I was having a really interesting conversation with the CEO of Niantic. So they did Pokemon Go. And what he was saying is that we are out to watch out for how indoor wayfinding will be addressed within the next year. So it's a bit pay attention to it. You will see a number of companies popping up. So yeah, observe how that's progressing.
Unknown Speaker 31:41
Yeah, and Niantic is publishing some extraordinary demos. I was talking to someone right outside before the session about occlusion and then I knew Niantic did this like mind blowing thing, these Pikachu as the like example running around.
Unknown Speaker 31:55
I mean, this fascinating because just when we started the project, what we could do then has evolved dramatically. And that's and you know, that's something to consider, you know, if you're smaller Museum, if you don't have a budget to experiment the way that we did. Things are becoming more accessible and more affordable, better faster. Okay,
Unknown Speaker 32:20
great. Thank you. Thank you, everybody, for coming. I know it's Friday, have a safe trip back to wherever your city is. And thank you for spending some time with us.