Mobile Apps in Review from Afar

I chose to review one of the booths at the Museums & Mobile Online Conference that took place October 24-26.  One of the most interesting companies I felt was D’Uva Workshop.  Though they are an Italian based company they are starting some really ground-breaking work that could really serve many different types of museums, but could DEFINITELY do big things for interpretation of outdoor historic sites and museums.

D’Uva uses technology in order to assist in interpreting cultural heritage sites with audio guides, video guides, multimedia totems, apps and contents to narrate museums, exhibits, monuments and many other types of sites.  I downloaded the one free app they offer of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is set up as a fairly straightforward audio guide you listen to on your own phone and offers some photos.

I know some people say that having mobile apps available where people can “visit” the museum will make them not feel like they should visit the REAL museums, but I disagree.  I feel like hearing snippets and seeing images makes me that much more inclined to go.  I’m not going to schedule my trip to Palazzo Vecchio tomorrow but if I ever find myself wandering around Florence, chances are I’ll make a point to visit just because of this audio guide I listened to a million miles away.  You can see a video of their Pantheon app here.

Not a museum or historic site, they also made a really neat mobile app for the history of the company Acqua Panna (you know, the fancy water?).  It has maps, videos, pics, audio guides etc.  I played with it for a quite a while and didn’t find any glitches.  I foresee a big future in using apps at cultural heritage sites and thing eventually it could almost be done with a sort of panning.  As in, I’m standing in front of a civil war site and I see the exact same image on my phone.  I can then virtually pan through the site on my phone screen and zoom in on points of interest (that don’t have standing text panels in the actual sites).  I could possibly watch how a reenactment might play out in the space I’m standing in through a video on my phone.  It might be an in-depth app to create but think of how many people you could reach and that could use it at very low long-term cost.

As I mentioned, I think having access to a museum from afar through a mobile app, that you might not otherwise get to visit, is a good way to engage with and get interested in a museum.  So, I choose to use an app for a museum in another country to both check out the app but to see if it managed to perk my interest enough that I might care to visit someday.  I choose the app for a Graphic Design Museum in Breda, Netherlands which supposedly has over 16,000 users.

Overall, this application is really quite good as I didn’t run into any glitches.  However, the layout is a little boring and does not contain an overwhelming amount of information.  I read all of the content in the app, which is, I think,  everything that is included in the actual museum.  The app has fairly normal selections of explore, map, search, agenda (exhibitions and events) and info.  There are roughly 20 pieces you can look at in the app and read more information about the design movement it fits into as well as main info about each piece.  The map is interesting in that you can locate each piece on it and be able to go straight there if you were looking for something.  Overall, this particular application made me feel like there is no reason for me to visit this museum.  By the map it looks like I’ve already seen all of the pieces and they aren’t anything I find incredibly interesting.

Maybe these apps can also be of use to consumers to rule out potential vacation scheduling failures?