10 March 2014 15:10

Visitors to museums across Europe may soon be able to shape their own cultural experience before even leaving home or getting on a plane thanks to an innovation which uses mobile, augmented reality and geo-localisation technologies to turn an ordinary museum visit into a personal, interactive storytelling experience.
A consortium of academic, industrial and cultural organisations across Europe have used EU investment to create and develop mobile technology that will enable visitors to enhance their cultural experience by participating in in a personal, tailored itinerary and interactive experience created by museum sites. The CHESS App, which will be available to download on smartphones and tablets, aims to bring the past alive, at users' fingertips, making culture and history engaging and available to everyone. CHESS technology developed by French, Greek, British and German partners in EU-funded project to be showcased at the Innovation Convention in Brussels today and tomorrow.
"A guided tour is a linear experience where the visitor remains rather passive. With CHESS the museum visit is likened to a gaming experience, making visitors active and engaged in cultural heritage.  Visitors are informed but also challenged, teased and entertained. This is vital to hold the interest of visitors, in particular the younger generation who are immersed in games on their consoles, smartphones and tablets" said Dr Olivier Balet from DIGINEXT, the French company coordinating the project.
The 'Cultural-Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling' (CHESS) project is supported by more than €2.8 million in funding from the European Commission and aims to make the museum experience an attractive, more engaging one for all.
The project has built a number of innovative tools that achieve just this by focusing on the visitors and allowing cultural heritage sites to create and publish experiences tailor-made for them. With the online 'CHESS visitor survey', people can register their interests, likes and dislikes. This tool permits museums to create surveys with single- or multiple-choice and to link answers with a persona, i.e. a character representative of the visitor's profile. The 'CHESS authoring tool' then enables non-IT professionals such as museum curators and staff to easily develop multi-path dynamic storylines integrated with advanced multimedia content. Finally, the 'Storytelling engine' runs the story according to the paths defined but also personalises and dynamically adapts the story being told according to the visitors' individual choices, updating their profile right through the course of the story.
Unlike traditional museum guides, the CHESS App tells each visitor a dedicated story, focused on the exhibits most relevant to their interests and mood, with as few or many details as preferred. Stories can be enhanced with multimedia, 3D and 'augmented reality' games and in some cases objects talk and invite visitors to interact with them.
The CHESS product was trialled at the Acropolis Museum in Athens and at the Cité de l'Espace Park in Toulouse over six months last year to great success.  The project co-ordinators are predicting that CHESS will be launched on the market in two years. To see how the CHESS technology works, go to: http://youtu.be/fZRiE7VR-xw


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