The Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project was a $106,000 New York State Council on the Arts 2013, Rochester Institute of Technology and Visit Rochester funded project to improve a tourist’s heritage experience through location-based mobile interactions with augmented reality and heritage storytelling. Our main goal was to create fun interactive experiences for school children to inspire their parents to make return visits.
We focused our research and development on four particular visitor-centered problems when visiting a large heritage destination such as Genesee Country Village & Museum.
- Guides, being volunteers, are not always present.
- The village is large and easy to not know where to go.
- You need more than one day to feel like you have seen the village.
- Not easy to figure out what some buildings are or what stories they hold.
Visitor Experience Solutions
- Enable the visitors to easily navigate between locations for both utility and serendipity.
- Use the relationship between historical buildings and events to create historically relevant scenarios for the visitor to explore and learn.
- Deliver stories as information at the right location without impending on the user in his/her overall physical environments.
A heritage story is a strategy to deliver digital content through video augmented characters (digital agents), relevant to the location where the visitor is standing. The story links the locations together creating continuity from location to location at a historical destination. The heritage stories enable historical practitioners and designers the ability to create historically acurate contexts in which the visitor can learn and explore a single location in a multiple of ways.
Heritage Story: The Mystery of the Missing Child
This heritage story reflects how children were treated in 19th century America. However, the culture and historical information is woven into when and where the visitor moves from location to the location driven by the characters in the story.
The story is about a young girl named Alice who’s brother has gone missing. The visitor explores the Pioneer Settlement while learning 19th century, childhood responsibilities (child labor), building materials (blacksmith trade), cultural norms (teachers could physically hurt children), education standards (girls are not to be educated), medical treatments (herbal medicine for burns) and what a children can do to escape being bullied (they hide).
Heritage AUgmented Characters
Along the way, the visitor will meet and be lead around the village by the following characters. Alice is the lead character as she engages the visitor to help her find her younger brother guiding the visitor from location to location. Alice introduces the visitor to her sick father, meets Ms Crabapple, the protagonist, and runs into a sympathetic blacksmith. At the end of the story, the mystery is solved and her brother has been under the care of a the village midwife. See below for all characters.
Mobile User Interface
We designed a mobile interface to, not only solve fundamental visitor-experience problems, but also meet the requirements of create a heritage story.