Unleashing HTML5 power in modern multi-platform museum guide

Best Practice Session
Davide Rogai, Italy

Several technological steps have been taken from early audio-guides, nowadays from both museum services and app market a lot of cross-media guide are offered. These guides span from simple rich-text content and picture galleries to interactive video or animation, 3D model reconstruction and augmented reality. Content viewing platforms moved from custom-made to general purpose devices and apps on the market are also offered. User experience has deeply changed, instead of just listening to audio resources, user interact much more with content presentation, use camera and other sensors. Devices works often with stable connectivity to the internet, and users install apps from the market on their own personal devices.

Offering these services with this amount of digital content require more complex content and dynamic update of a large set of data including user generated data (comments, clicks, etc.). The back office work has changed from selecting and numbering a list of audio samples to the management of digital content with new media type and a lot of relation among them. Creating a market App or packaging a new device for rent services do not change operations while preparing digital content: in fact often market app is obtained directly from rent device software. Use of CMS platform is now useful in order to storing media, associating to guides and creating links and experience path among content. Use of these platform ease process like content update on large set devices, push notification on users devices and content association to user experience data.

In terms of user experience guides basically allow to browse and search content and in the end content is viewed, this navigation can be related to different content metadata (historical period, location, genre, author, etc.). Content organization by time or location usually require a vertical UI in order to simplify comprehension. When creating this view “pages” flexibility in authoring phases can be a competitive advantage, but could require additional effort on configuring software in order to extend to this special views. HTML5 and hybrid development solution (i.e. based on PhoneGap) allow to approach application view like a web view thus creating layout and behavior with maximum flexibility. Performance of content viewing application (reaction time after user click) is always a key factor of a positive user experience, thus javascript authoring need to be carried out with more attention.

Hybrid solution come to help when complex content is included in the guide like 3D model interaction or augmented reality. In these cases HTML5 view has to pass control to a native part of the application and technology like PhoneGap allow to insert native plugin that response to pre-designed callback URLS. In this way web content can invoke an augmented reality session by activating a normal link.

Last, but no least, user need of sharing and notify/advice friends about activity in visiting museums has to be covered by allowing social interaction when consuming content. This feature require users to login thus opening to behavior registration.

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