Hack At The Harris

Museum exhibits speak to us from the past, telling us about our history, community and identity.

Until now they have only spoken figuratively. Now museum exhibits can speak to us literally, in our own voice and maybe answering our questions.

Working in collaboration, Black Radley and Microsoft has already created a prototype intelligent exhibit that can see visitors approaching and speak to them appropriately. Visitors of different ages can hear different things about the exhibit. The exhibit could even tell you something different depending on whether you look happy or sad. This is a small demonstration of the potential for cloud computing and artificial intelligence to allow museum exhibit to speak directly to visitors. More importantly the prototype demonstrated that an intelligent museum exhibit can be created for under £100.

Now Black Radley and Microsoft are going to try and get a collection of exhibits to speak up and perhaps even answer questions. At the end of August, a small team of software developers will be based in the Harris Museum Makerspace working to create the software to allow a collection of exhibits to interact with visitors. The software created by Black Radley and Microsoft is only one part of the experience. An exhibit that speaks to visitors should speak with authority. Museum curators are going to provide the in-depth knowledge and experience so the exhibit can speak with equal authority. How should an exhibit speak? It should speak with the voice of the local community so local community groups will be helping make recordings for the exhibits. The software developers, museum professionals and community interest groups will be working together to create museum exhibits that speak from the past using the technology of the future.

So next time you hear an exhibit speaking, don’t be surprised, it probably really is speaking to you.