Type: pervasive mobile museum guide and game
Purpose: engage and motivate museum visitors to explore the museum exhibition and learn about history of technology
Place: Museum of Technology, Helsinki, Finland
Technologies: Client: J2ME, 2D barcodes; server: Java, PHP, MySQL
TekGuide and TekGame are two mobile applications that together form a context-aware learning space at the Museum of Technology in Helsinki. They were created based on good experiences received from the TekMyst game deployed at Museum of Technology in 2008. Software architecture was developed on the foundations on Heroes of Koskenniska and the utilization of museum objects has a key role in learning experience.
Both TekGuide and TekGame are available in multiple languages and they can be used by museum visitors in the exhibition hall. TekGuide takes the visitor to a tour through the four thematic areas of the museum by using text, images and sound effects as well as audio narration. The visitor may choose their pace and go back and forth between screens of information. Long texts can be scrolled and images zoomed to fill the entire screen. Sounds and narrations are played automatically, and the visitor can stop or repeat the audio at will. The following figure illustrates part of TekGuide’s content in Finnish.
TekGame is more complex and interactive application than TekGuide. It is based on various objects embedded in the four thematic areas of the museum but the traversal order of these objects can be decided by the player. Thus, there is no forced chronological structure in TekGame as content created for each object forms an independent entity. For the first version there were 13 objects included in the game and for each object there were two challenges: one for knowledge and one for creativity. Challenges range from multiple choice quizzes to ordering tasks and from photo capture tasks to text input activities. Additionally, there are Super Challenges with a higher degree of difficulty that are shown after every three passed objects. The selection of objects is done by recording 2D bar codes with the mobile phone’s camera. As the platform is the same for TekGuide and TekGame, the latter also utilises text, images and audio content. However, the interaction is of higher degree in TekGame due to increased possibilities for user input. Figure below shows sample screenshots from the TekGame content where the characters, Aimo the creativity consultant and Iina the engineer, lead the player. Many of the creativity task answers can be shared to other people via TekGame’s website.
The core components of TekGame and TekGuide were created as a collaboration project between the Museum of Technology, Ubium Oy and Sanna Laakkonen in 2010-2011. In 2013 content was available in Finnish, English, Swedish and Russian.