New Wireless Information System for Museum

The American Museum of the Moving Image is partnering with Organic, an Internet firm based in San Francisco, to create a means of communicating with its visitors that could have wide-ranging effects on the museum experience.

The American Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, Queens-the only American museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image-is partnering with Organic, Inc, an Internet firm based in San Francisco, to create a means of communicating with its visitors that could have wide-ranging effects on the museum experience.

The Museum and Organic are developing a prototype of a wireless artifact-information system, to be called eDocent, that sends information from a database at the Museum to mobile communications devices carried through the galleries by visitors.

The information can be continuously updated, and may be individually tailored by Museum visitors to encompass as much or as little information as they wish, ranging from basic facts about Museum exhibits to in-depth explanations, which may be experienced by the user either at that time, via the device, or at another time via a traditional web browser interface. The information can consist of text, audio, still, and possibly moving images.

This standards-based approach-the idea of Carl Goodman, the Museum’s internationally recognised curator of digital media-utilises the Java programming language and Internet Protocol, and serves as a potent hedge against the rapid obsolescence to which projects using custom devices and proprietary systems often succumb.

Organic will integrate advanced networking and sensor technologies and develop a custom application platform that can meet the future needs of the American Museum of the Moving Image and other public institutions. This platform will be tested across a number of standard portable devices, from Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices to E-books to Web Tablets, and operating systems such as Palm and Symbian.

The American Museum of the Moving Image houses the one of the US’ most important collections of motion picture and television artifacts. eDocent has the potential to make this resource, which comprises some 85,000 objects, more widely accessible to the public.

The Museum has received funding for this project from a New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Challenge Award, the William Fox, Jr. Foundation, and Citigroup.

Organic are at www.organic.com