AR mobile navigation at the Technical Museum Vienna

VIEWAR powering world’s largest AR indoor navigation at Technical Museum of Vienna.

Museum visitors usually seek to gain as much information as possible about certain objects or exhibitions at the museum. However, many times they require a little help finding the right item or navigating the quickest way possible to their desired destination.

For this, indoor navigation systems are a game-changer for on-the-move assistance, indoor positioning and wayfinding. This article describes how VIEWAR powers the indoor navigation project with the Technical Museum Vienna (TMW) using Augmented Reality for localisation and positioning.

Objective and scope of services needed

The technical museum in Vienna wanted to implement an indoor positioning system, to provide easier wayfinding and provide individual tours to their visitors. With only using their smart-devices (smartphone or tablet) guests should accurately locate specific objects and precisely find their way around the museum. Wayfinding was to be provided with Augmented Reality, meaning guidance towards objects should be done using the camera of the user’s device. To implement such a navigation system and facilitate positioning within the area, the museum needed a 3D Scan of the whole venue, which is about 22.000 sqm (236.800 sq ft). 

Using the navigation system, the 12.000 exhibition objects should be localized and either navigated to directly or be headed for within different tours. Additionally, item specific information should be displayed when pointed at the correct element. This content can be text, images, audio or video and should be retrieved from an existing museum collection management system, called Adlib.

The navigation system was intended to be implemented in an app specially developed for the museum. Also, a 2D museum plan was going to be presented on the website of the museum, showing POIs, exhibitions as well as separate objects and important checkpoints at the museum.

Problem: 

Indoor navigation solutions for mobile devices are becoming more common and accepted for people wanting to find destinations inside a building. Many indoor positioning and navigation applications often use hardware, such as bluetooth beacons and ceiling antennas. Such hardware installations are expensive and need to be maintained. Bluetooth beacon based solutions would only be able to provide an accuracy of 5-8 meters which is not enough for a museum. 

Solution: 

VIEWAR is deploying a vision-based positioning system using Augmented Reality techniques for indoor navigation. More precisely, VIEWAR uses the visual recognition method to calculate visitor position, Augmented Reality to display real-time information and an interactive guide to show the navigation destination direction.

Watch the video here >

Augmented reality navigation for everyone!

With augmented reality (AR), visitors receive real-time additional information about an object when pointing at it with their camera phone. For example text descriptions, short references,  images and videos as well as breathtaking animations will enrich every visitors’ stay at the museum. Although it is a relatively new technology, indoor navigation apps in a museum offer various opportunities for guests to create a memorable experience when visiting the museum and its exhibitions. Therefore, it is an easy and innovative way for you to offer:

1. Additional information about objects

Content to enhance the experience of the visitor can be text, images, audio, video and animations. It can be retrieved from existing collection management systems. Subsequently, your visitor will see the information at the point of interest on the smartphone (location-based information). Also, the app offers text and voice translations for all available languages. The setting of your smartphone will decide the default language.

2. Easy wayfinding and navigation

Points of interest not only function as positions in tours, you can also navigate to them directly. For example for all your impatient visitors who don’t have time to do the whole journey. Or for your passionate car lovers who just want to see the dinosaurs.

3. Guided tours even in times of social distancing

Visitors can pick a guided tour of their interest. During the tour, they find the way on their own smartphone. Especially in times of social distancing and limitations to group-sizes. Now, you can still offer guided experiences in your venue and simply curate your own tours. With the admin interface creating, editing, and managing tours is an easy task. 

4. Interactive tours

Guide your visitors with a 3D avatar. Our customizable guide can be the visitor’s personal museum guide. Additionally it can provide multilingual explanations!

5. Added value for visitors

Combine real world exhibitions with entertainment features on the most important device, the smartphone. As a result, create a unique experience for your museum visitors. Not only learning about the history of technology but also being entertained represents an added value and will certainly leave a good impression with your guests.

VIEWAR partners with TMW to create and enhanced visitor experience

The IT agency Jart who won the tender for the application was looking for options for the indoor positioning. Among other technologies, ViewAR has presented their AR based approach and was chosen as the system for the AR component. 

Using the TMW App, visitors can choose one or more Points of Interest (POIs) and will be guided to the destination by the VIEWAR system. To start the navigation, the user films the area around him to do the positioning and is then guided towards the chosen POI or POIs. Once at the Point of Interest the app offers further information for interaction. This approach helps visitors to create personalized tours or use already existing tours guiding them through various exhibitions and objects of the museum. Using Augmented Reality, interactive content can also be offered at the point of interest.

The location was scanned by Beko, who used a Matterport Pro3D Scanner, in order to produce a scan of the location. The scan of the entire floor space of about 22.000m2 took 5 days. The project was finalized and successfully implemented into the Museum App in April 2021.

Conclusion:

“Indoor navigation with Augmented Reality offers a unique solution for an advanced and entertaining visitors’ experience at our museum”, says Dr. Walter Szevera from the TMW. “No matter if our visitors want to take a guided tour or get more information about an exhibition object. With this solution we are able to provide such added values to our guests!”

Augmented Reality offers many interactive solutions involving visitors and creating rewarding engagement opportunities during their stay in the museum. The indoor navigation system by VIEWAR opens up an immersive world of experiences, information, video, AR-content and guided tours, to enable an unforgettable stay at the Technical Museum in Vienna.

Projects evaluation criteria

Level of Impact
40%
Scalability
30%
Transparency
20%
H-Factor
10%

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