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Company profile

3M Touch Systems
3M United Kingdom PLC
3M Centre
Cain Road
RG12 8HT
Tel: +44(0)1344 858467

How multi-touch AV is bringing the museum visitor experience to life

By 3M Touch Systems

Museums are among some of the biggest investors in the latest AV technology right now, and for good reason. Getting visitors into museums is a hard task in a market where there is so much competition, not just from other museums, but from all kinds of entertainment and learning experiences, including the digital world.

Plus, consumers – especially the younger generation – are ‘tech savvy’ and have high expectations. Let’s face it, the average youngster has more exciting, engaging information in his or her pocket than most of us could have imagined a few years back.

That’s why we’re seeing museums increasingly investing in multi-touch AV technology. This is particularly true of high-end venues such as automotive, science and art museums, but also in a wide variety of different attractions, large and small. While these are typically permanent AV installations, we’re seeing the content being updated more frequently, to reflect current themes or seasons.

Collaborative engagement

By introducing interactive, multi-user elements, this technology does more than just provide wayfinding or basic information. For instance, people can compete in virtual games, perhaps ‘paint’ their own masterpiece, design a car, or find hidden treasure. Groups of people can either collaboratively engage with the same on-screen content, together or separately: the kids can be collating a ‘virtual’ puzzle or watching a video, while mum and dad work out the shortest way to the museum café.

Also, multi-technology can be used to generate museum revenue. Since it engages with visitors in a fun and non-confrontational way, it breaks down many of the barriers associated with more traditional sales techniques. If connected to other IT systems in the museum, it can gather visitor data and patterns of interest, either for future or immediate use. For example, if the system picks up that someone seems especially interested in Roman history, it could suggest immediate booking to get discounted tickets on relevant events, or books on that subject available for purchase in the gift-shop.

Riga Motor Museum

One European venue that is making the most of multi-touch AV technology is Riga Motor Museum in Latvia’s capital city, housing one of the most comprehensive and exciting collections of antique automobiles globally.

The museum, which re-opened its doors in July 2016 after an ambitious three-year redevelopment project, has put audiovisual at the heart of its exhibit strategy, with a heavy emphasis on multi-touch technology – supplied by local audio-visual technology specialist SOLAVI - to take the visitor experience to a whole new level of engagement and interaction.

“Modern technology such as multi-touch displays are essential for a museum which positions itself as a modern, knowledge sharing and educating institution,” says Aija Bauere, public relations specialist at the Riga Motor Museum. “Interactive and entertaining, multi-touch screens allow the museum to share information in a more exciting way. Also, a museum’s collection accumulates an immense amount of information: multi touch displays make this content easily accessible.”

As with any visitor-facing technology, it’s imperative that the multi-touch systems can cope with large volumes of unsupervised use.

Exceeding expectations

Ints Berzins, founder of SOLAVI, explained: “It’s no longer enough to just give people a button to press. We chose 3M technology for several reasons. The displays are extremely robust, so they can cope with visitors leaning on them. 3M displays also offer plenty of touch points and the bezel-free design means that the AV experience goes right to the very edge of the screen.”

Riga Motor Museum’s positive experience of the current generation of multi-touch technology is increasingly typical, with reports of it keeping users engaged for longer periods of time, at a deeper level. All this contributes to a better overall visitor experience while creating new opportunities for museums and other visitor attractions to keep people interested and coming back for more.

“The multi-touch displays have exceeded our expectations,” says Bauere. “It’s been particularly important for our museum, where the main audience is families; we’ve noticed that children use the displays intuitively. By choosing multi-touch displays, we have made our content more accessible and fulfilled our mission of teaching and sharing knowledge.”

Further resources

3M has produced a best practice guide designed to give inspiration to museums interested in using multi-touch AV to create an interactive, touch screen visitor experience. Developed in conjunction with leading AV specialists, the guide includes advice - including tips that will help bring kids through the doors - and is now available in a short animation video. To find out more, please follow this link.
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