04 Apr Can Beacons and a Museum App Revitalize the Museum Sector?
While technology continues to change, museums are very much the same—at least, in several regards. Art is transforming to include the internet, 3D printing, and even social media; however the way in which visitors experiences all that is long overdue for an update. Technology is available for museum galleries, but it is often very expensive. That is what makes beacons different. By combining Bluteooth beacons with a museum app, visitors are able to have a revolutionary experience without costing the museum a fortune.
Beacons are small Bluetooth devices that broadcast a near-constant radio signal to smart devices. This signal be hooked up to do almost anything a developer can think up. In this case, they are installed near exhibit pieces in a gallery. When a visitor walks by, a museum app on the visitor’s phone registers the beacon and can relay the information related to that particular exhibit.
Bluetooth Beacons have already been rolled out in museums both large and small including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Kew Gardens, and the very popular Swiss Museum of Transport. Given their affordability, they will likely become more mainstream as museums begin to recognize the great return on investment.
Museums generally rent out audio equipment for their gallery tours. This charge helps cover the cost of physical hardware like audio guide headsets, but it is far from a perfect system. The hardware is often old, worn, and very costly to replace. Similarly, a museum app can give physical signage a makeover, making it much easier to scale and update. Everything can be sent to the cloud and updated instantly.
Common museum guide solutions:
- Printed labels: offer limited space, time-consuming to update, not crowd-friendly
- Printed guidebooks: costly, wasteful, can limit language options
- Audio guide/headset: high implementation cost, high maintenance cost, may require dedicated staff
A Great Museum App Creates Great Experience and Returns
A smart museum app can offer visitors an entirely new experience. Normally, when visitors enter a gallery, they receive a pamphlet or are expected to read the placards associated with the exhibits. This physical signage may include the artist, the title of the piece, and anywhere from one sentence to one paragraph of context. This does not leave a lot of wiggle room for the truly exciting and meaningful details that make art come to life.
A museum app based on proximity, on the other hand, gives curators the chance to communicate with visitors at length. If the visitor wants to read three pages about one painting, they should have that option! A museum app can be designed to include different levels to accommodate children, experts, or students. With no need to worry about placard space, a museum app can also be easily designed to include multiple languages. The result is a highly accessible and more interactive experience.
- Increase engagement rates
- Service as many visitors as necessary
- Provide indoor navigation
- Generate revenue and data
- Offer customized promotions
- Provide up-to-date information
Museums can also increase returns by driving up engagement. Beacons add a number of new possibilities to museums including promotions, quizzes, and gamification opportunities. Students required to listen to a set number of audio recordings can be rewarded with prizes or secret content.
Graceland Visitors Loving Beacons
The museum at Graceland installed some 50 Kontakt.io batteries to link rooms and areas up with online data. Walking into certain rooms triggers content like videos and trivia. For a museum like Graceland, which documents and reflects the real life of Elvis Presley, proximity technology is irreplaceable. Beacons and the Graceland museum app can show visitors images and video footage of Elvis standing in the same room as they are in. Their system included an audio guide in nine languages and narration from Elvis-fan John Stamos.
The backyard beacons even trigger video footage of a fireworks war between Elvis and friends that was filmed in there.
Find Out What Your Visitors Love (and Don’t Love)
Beacons do much more than send push notifications. While your visitors are traveling between the rooms, a museum app can be leveraged to collect data and discover what parts of your museum are particularly popular—or unpopular. This kind of highly specific insight will let managers make better staffing decisions and could lead to better-planned exhibits and campaigns. Many museum app solutions are designed for ease-of-use, meaning you don’t have to be a data analyst or programmer in order to benefit from data.
Perhaps most important of all, a beacon-based system is also very financially viable. As museums often struggle to secure funds, beacons are an affordable investment that offers many opportunities to boost returns. By giving more visitors better access to information and making the experience more memorable, museum operators will find the beacon to be a natural progression for museum necessities.
You can also test out beacon solutions for yourself in the Proximity Studio. We’re located right in the heart of Berlin.