March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Workshops: Description

You Rang? Delivering Automated Audio Tours via Patrons' Cell Phones (FULL)

Matthew Nickerson, Southern Utah University, USA
David Asheim, Guide by Cell Inc., USA

The popularity of cell phones and the many phone-based business applications for their use lead us to investigate the possibilities of applying this rapidly growing technology to cultural heritage projects. Many museums around the world rent audio players to their visitors to provide automated tours delivering pre-recorded information about their exhibits. Though popular with patrons and generally very effective and successful hosting large tours can also be expensive, time consuming, and frustrating. This workshop examines new developments in delivering audio tours to cultural heritage patrons via their personal cell phones. In pursuing alternatives to the rental paradigm one possibility arises from the fact that many patrons bring their own 'digital sound player' with them in the guise of their personal cell phone. As cell phones proliferate and the price of calling plans falls, cell phones may present a viable alternative to current audio tour systems.

This workshop will explore current cell phone tours systems and take a look at the future of this promising technology. Research results from a variety of projects including those conducted by the instructors will be used to illustrate the development and delivery of cell phone tours and the pros and cons of current cell phone tour systems. During the course of the workshop attendees will have a chance to try their hands in developing a short cell phone audio guide of their own.

Learning objectives

At the end of the workshop, participants will:

  1. Understand the history and development of museum audio tours
  2. Appreciate the unique attributes of cell phone tours and their ability to educate, inform, and inspire museum visitors.
  3. Have a basic understanding of VXML and of the systems necessary for hosting and/or developing a VXML based audio tour
  4. Have a basic understanding of a variety of other possible cell phone systems and applications.
  5. Understand current challenges faced by cell phone applications in cultural heritage settings.
  6. Gain an appreciation for the future of cell phone and related technologies as they relate to delivering automated audio information.

The workshop is informal and interactive. The discussion will build upon and benefit from the experience and imagination of the participants.


30 minutes: Review the history of audio tours, their pros and cons. Introduce the idea of cell phone tours

60 minutes: Review research at SUU and Guide By Cell. Briefly review other tours currently in operation and under development. Pros and Cons of different projects and systems. Voice recognition vs DTMF.

30 minutes: coffee break

60 minutes: Try it! Hands-on session. Divide into two groups and create cell tours:

  1. using VXMl and the BeVocal Cafe and
  2. Guide By Cell

30 minutes: Future phones and cultural heritage applications. Related technologies that may converge: PDAs, Podcasts, RSS, etc.

This workshop is now full.

Workshop: Nickerson [Afternoon]

Keywords: Audio guides, wireless, cell phones