There is a lot of highly contentious discussion swirling around the cultural space regarding the indoor positioning problem. The obvious promise of pinpointing our visitors' exact location is so self-evident that very few organizations pause to consider what they will do once they can get sub-meter accuracy. At the American Museum of Natural History we were forced by historical precedent to seek to leverage indoor positioning in support of wayfinding. But that is just the beginning. As we've assembled a system from the best, currently avaialble technologies (BLE) we've also gone back to the drawing board (and the analytics and the visitor surveys) to address the indoor positioing froma visitor-first perspective.
As I literally walked the half-million square feet of public museum space placing more than 700 BLE "beacons" onto the walls of 25 buildings of varied construction materials and methods I was not just thinking about "coverage" or "RF interference", I was thinking about interpretive media and what we would say to a visitor that we'd identified as "being in this place." The answer, more often than not, didn't dictate sub-meter resolution from the indoor positioning system but could be handled by simply knowing what quadrant of a gallery the visitor was in. By using overlapping, cascading interfaces (both automated and manual) an experience can be crafted that can provide delightful interaction with Museum content.What does it mean to define the contextual visitor experience first? Wayfinding to Hall/gallery introductions to object-specific interpretation, how close do you need to get.What does overlapping / cascading interfaces mean? Can the user correct an erroneous position? How specific does the app need to be in assuming that it knows what object the visitor is "near" or "interested in."
The answers to these questions need to be in place before selecting an indoor positioning system in order to prevent cultural institutions from wasting money on unused gimmick.