Science centres and museums are meeting places for children, youth, and adults. Visitors can explore math, science, technology, and history through their own activity and together with other visitors.
What engages the visitors?
Currently, there are no good measures to answer this question. Museums count their visitors and do manual visitor studies. But yet, data collection methods that report what visitors actually experience are absent.
The project VISITOR ENGAGEMENT will develop methods and an innovative system to measures visitors engagement in museums and science centres. This will be done by means of sensor and camera technology, and the registration of user behaviour in combination with short surveys. Data can be observed using sensor technology without storing personal information and without bothering the visitor.
Expology, the project owner, will expand the Exhibition Management System (XMS) with a set of modules that implement the functionality of VISITOR ENGAGEMENT. Other participants in the project are the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, and the Interactive Technology Centre Engineerium. These science centres and museums will participate in the testing and validation of the new solutions. The Norwegian Computing Centre (NR) has the responsibility for research activities and leads the project. NR will develop methodology to combine subjective and objective data that have been collected with the new system. NR will also be responsible for sensor technology, data modelling, and the validation of the system. The Department of Education at the University of Oslo will contribute at the visitor studies at the science centres.
The project has developed a classification of installations in science centres, the VISITOR ENGAGEMENT Installation Profile (VEI-profile). This profile describes the relative strength of different parameters that affect the engagement of visitors who use an installation. These parameters can be applied to systematically observe the effect of changes made to installations. The VEI-profile consists of the following dimensions: competition, narrative, interaction, physical activity, degree of control, and the social dimension.
The Research Council of Norway supports the project.
The project will conduct case studies at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, and Aker Solutions Engineerium to validate the developed system and document the results. The project has selected the installations: “Energy Tivoli – Solar Cell” at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, “Highway at sea” in the newly opened exhibition “Norway is the Sea” at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, and “eQuiz” at the Engineerium as research subjects in the evaluations for the autumn 2014 and spring 2015.
At this stage of the project we have conducted trials with about 80 participants at the “eQuiz” installation and about 30 participants at the “Energy Tivoli – Solar Cell”. For the “Highway at sea” installation internal tests have been conducted and the trials with visitors at the museum will be carried out during April.
Several prototypes for three of the four main technical modules in the VISITOR ENGAGEMENT system has been developed. This includes a module for visitor observation with Kinect2 storing data about facial expression of visitor using a specific installation at a specific time. There are prototypes for collecting subjective data in form of a visitor survey used on a stand alone screen in connection with the installation, and possibilities for presentation of statistics of survey results. The three chosen installations also have prototypes installed storing the visitors use of the installations.
The installation eQuiz at the Interactive Technology Center Engineerium, shall challenge the visitors with questions about different environmental perspectives, show how the oil and gas industry takes responsibility, and how they work to minimise the negative impact on the environment. The installation provides an understanding of different ways we can lower our energy consumption to reduce the environmental impact.
eQuiz is a game where up to two players compete by answering questions related to energy and the environment. There are two levels available, beginner and expert. The installation consists of two stations with two large buttons each, an orange one and a blue one. eQuiz starts with a short introduction before ten questions are shown on the screen in sequence. As a question is shown, a timer starts counting down to zero. Players answers by pressing either button within the countdown time. Players receive points for a correct answer and bonus points based on how quickly they answered. A player answering incorrectly loses points but can’t go below zero. After the ten questions, a summary with the number of points scored for each player is presented.
In the project we performed trials where we wanted to find out whether facial expressions such as smile could be extracted in such a setting. We also wanted to find out how smile and mood relate to each other using observations, automatic extraction of facial expressions, questionnaires, and logfiles from the installation management system. The picture below shows the installation while the trials were performed. We found out that participants using the eQuiz smile alot - they smile even more when the quiz answer they give was wrong! Does this mean that a smile not necessarily means that they are happy?
This is an interactive competition with the main goal to make the visitors aware of how shipping is driving the world trade. By playing the game the participants experience the factors making shipping profitable and give a picture of the players optimizing “the highway of the sea”. The learning methods include using competition to increase the efforts, assignments and challenges that are simple enough for the participants to understand but difficult enough to give room for making mistakes and be able to learn out of mistakes – “Learning by burning”.
The game can be played with one to four participants and take about 10 minutes to play. A large projection shows a world map and the participants can see their ship and the route it is sailing. The participants choose their ship and the goods to transport. During the game they communicate with the captain, ship broker and the agent and decide directions, speed and where to bulk goods. Throughout the game the players will meet different unpredictable situation where they have to handle strikes, hurricanes and warnings about pirates.
The participant reaching the end harbor in the most economical and environmentally friendly manner wins the game.
The VISITOR ENGAGEMENT setup with Kinect-camera, logging of user activity and a survey application connected to the installation is tested, and the first trials with visitors will be conducted during the spring 2015. The picture below shows a team from the research network INREMO trying out the game.
The ”Energy Tivoli” is an exhibition about renewable energy. The interactive installations in the exhibition are based on activities known from the Tivoli world. For example throwing balls, pin ball game and high striker.
The VISITOR ENGAGEMENT research is done on the installation “Solar cell”. In this installation the visitor have to throw a ball (representing a photon with energy from the sun) a few meters and try to hit electrons (orange spots) in a silicon atom visualised on the wall, see picture below. Each time an electron is hit by a photon electricity is produced. The visitor presses a button to start and should hit as many electrons as possible in 20 seconds.
In the first trials the system log results from the visitors and there is a questioner to do surveys. The next step is to do observations using Kinect cameras and combine these data with log data and answers from the survey. The picture below shows the use of the "Solar cell" installation.
The Visitor Engagement Installation Profile (VEI profile) classifies installations in their dimensions of competition (C), narrative (N), interaction (I), physical (P), visitor (user) control (U), and social (S). Each of these dimensions can have a value from 0 to 5; the higher the value, the more a dimension is present in an installation.
The dimensions of the VEI profile are described as follows:
(C) - Competition: the degree of competition in an installation.
(N) - Narrative: the degree of active participation in the underlying narrative.
(I) - Interaction: the degree of interaction between the visitor and the installation.
(P) - Physical: the degree of physical activity the visitor must perform when using the installation.
(U) - Visitor control: the degree a visitor can control the use of the installation.
(S) - Social: the degree of social interaction between visitors.
In the assessment of the installations we want to determine whether a change in one dimension of the VEI profile from x to y will result in a change of the visitor’s engagement. We are interested in the relative changes of the assessed engagement-related values when testing installations with modified versions that have a different VEI profile.
The picture below shows an example on how to visualise the classification of the installation eQuiz at the Engineerium.
VISITOR ENGAGEMENT will be implemented as a set of modules in Expology’s system XMS (Exhibition Management System). There are four main technical modules for retrieving data.
1. Visitor Engagement – Observation: Measuring engagement using Kinect cameras and analyzing facial expressions.
2. Visitor Engagement – Survey: Short questionnaires where visitors answer questions about their experience and engagement
3. Visitor Engagement – User activity: Storing data about the user interaction of an installation
4. Visitor Engagement – Behavior: Tracking visitor movements using iBeacons and smartphone-app
The “Observation” module consists of a hardware setup including a PC and a Kinect camera, an application recording data from the Kinect, and an API for controlling the recording software and storing data to the XMS – Experience Management System. This module can be rented from Expology or be bought as an add-on to the next version of the Experience Management System - XMS 3.0. The first prototype is developed and are tested during the spring 2015.
The “Survey” module has a system for building up questionaries’ with different type of questions (multiple choice with radio buttons or check boxes, liker scale or free text) and a system for presenting statistics based on the results. The standard API makes it easy to include questions in the application for an installation or develop a separate app for visitors to use. Expology will offer this as an add-on to the next version of the Experience Management System - XMS 3.0. Prototypes are used in the ongoing trials.
The “User activity” module defines a standard format and includes an API to be added into any front end user interface to be able to store user data such as user interactions, results, progression and timestamps into the XMS. With this module statistics about user activities can be presented in the XMS. Expology will offer this as standard in the the next version of the Experience Management System - XMS 3.0.
11-13.06.2015: Ecsite, Trento
04.06.2015. DOGA, Oslo
Pecha Kucha event. Expology is presenting "Gøymåler" (Göran Joryd / Gordon Ryan)
9-24.04.2015: Pesaro, Barcelona
Wolfgang Leister presenting paper on Visitor Engagement
14.11.14. Expology client gathering, Oslo
Presentation of the project, research findings and technology demonstration
Project owner: Expology AS
Project manager / researcher: Norwegian Computing Center
Researcher: University of Oslo
Project partners: Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, Norwegian Maritime Museum, Engineerium - the interactive technology center