From Pokemon GO to Snapchat, augmented reality is a widely successful platform to engage app users in fun and interactive ways. Many AR apps are being used in museums to make their exhibits accessible to any visitor. There is a myriad of effective ways to engage visitors through existing AR apps.
For museums with a large international audience, offering content in several languages can be a challenge. Descriptions can only fit so many languages in without taking up too much exhibit space! Many tourists use the Google Translate app to guide them through museums. With the Google Translate app, visitors can scan a description in another language to see a split screen of the original language and their native language.
AR translation of original Shakespeare’s play Tempest to modern English
in the gardens of Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon - a Gamar demo
An issue with Google Translate is that it may not offer precise translations of the content, which can leave guests confused. This problem can be solved by having an AR tour available for guests with more precise translations.
2. Interactive Games to immerse guests in their own world
Many museums offer early bird starts to allow kids with autism to visit without being overwhelmed by large, noisy crowds. The Natural History Museum and Science Museum in London offer Early Bird starts for kids.
Visitors playing 'Captain Woodget’s Apprentice' on board Cutty Sark ship deck
AR can help kids with autism interact with museum exhibits even on busy days. One mother wrote about her experience visiting the Cutty Sark here
"We recently took a trip on the Cutty Sark to try out a new augmented reality app from Gamar. It was the first time we had been on the ship, I tried to prepare my daughter with pictures and YouTube clips of the ship, she was anxious and worried. Within 30 seconds of having the iPad in her hands she was away, she went off with a helper and thoroughly enjoyed finding different things on the ship and making them come alive in front of her. Normally I can’t get her to leave my side."
A mother playing the game at Cutty Sark with her family
3. British Sign Language Guided Tours
Heritage Ability is an organisation that specializes in making heritage sites and museums accessible to everyone. Among other projects, they offer several British Sign Language tours to heritage sites around the UK. However, it can be tough to organise a day out that suits everyone and planning for a specific date restricts guests’ freedom to choose when to visit.
Guests can access a map of the Killerton House in the BSL guided tour and select BSL videos from each room
Heritage Ability has partnered with Gamar to offer a BSL guided tour to visitors at the Killerton House in Exeter. The trail allows anyone to see a guided BSL tour of the Killerton House on their mobile device.
4. Enlarging Text and Audio Tours
Some museum guests may have trouble reading the small text of descriptions next to an exhibit. If guests are able to use their own phones as a tour guide, they can see more succinct and clear versions of the descriptions. By having app tours, guests can also enlarge the text on their phone in order to read descriptions and facts relevant to an exhibit.
Ripon City AR trail in which green plaques across the city are brought to life using Audio and animations
Another option is the ability to add audio clips or audio guides to a tour on the Gamar app. Audio clips can replace written text or act as a tour guide for an exhibit. Think of it as a personal docent!
5. Augmented Reality tours for the mobility impaired
Mobile accessibility is crucial for museums. However, there can still be challenges for some guests even after accommodations are made. Some visitors may want to access information for the whole museum from a specific point.
With AR guided trails, guests can preview areas of the museum that they may not be able to visit and still receive the full experience.
The 'Captain Woodget’s Apprentice' game on board the Cutty Sark allows visitors to play the game from any point on the ship. This way guests are not forced to walk back and forth across the ship in order to play the game.
A 360 degree world of an ocean which the player dives into and collects pearls and treasures, Dive & Design game at the V&A Pearls Exhibition
Another option available on the Gamar app, is the ability to add 360-degree views from points of the building that may not be accessible to all guests. The Peterborough Cathedral is in the process of creating a trail using the Gamar app. In this trail, they are adding a stop which gives guests a 360-degree immersive image from the top of the tallest tower of the cathedral.
Augmented reality is an incredible tool for accessibility. Apps can be modified to tailor experiences to each guests’ needs. Whether it is a translation, audio accompaniment, or views from areas that are difficult to access, augmented reality enables all guests to have a more comfortable experience.
Try creating your own trails with a free trial of the Gamar software to make your space more accessible!
Journalist, digital marketer, multitasker and storyteller. Strong media professional graduated from Google’s Squared Online and account director at Red Squirrel.