My guide

A new invention delivers the sights and sounds of museum displays to the palms of visitors’ hands.

An invention that delivers the sights and sounds of museum displays right into visitors’ hands has been unveiled by a Salford University engineering academic at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Called mi-Guide, Prof Nigel Linge’s handheld innovation allows visitors to see and hear video and audio information as they walk from exhibit to exhibit. The device has been developed specifically for the Connecting Manchester Gallery at MOSI, which launched last month.

The mi-Guides make use of a WiFi network and RFID tags attached to objects on display. When the tags are scanned by a mi-Guide device, they deliver images, sounds, videos and text related to the object. The user navigates around the exhibits using a touch-screen monitor on the mi-Guide device itself.

‘mi-Guide brings the museum visitor experience into the 21st century. Many people will have used an audio guide when visiting galleries or stately homes. mi-Guide moves this technology on – to give a full multimedia experience. It is one of the first of its kind,’ said Prof Linge.

‘mi-Guide is a great way for visitors to gain access to detailed information and a range of fascinating stories about collection items, depending on their level of interest. The user is very much in control, which means they can skip bits which are not of interest and quickly find the information relevant to them at the touch of a button,’ added Pauline Webb, collections manager at MOSI.

Prof Linge’s next challenge is to enable school pupils to benefit from the mi-Guide. ‘We’re working on technology that allows kids to use the device in classrooms and then follow up with museum tours that specifically relate to their lessons,’ he said.

The EPSRC has just awarded Prof Linge and his team a grant of over £200,000 to fund a further two years of development.