See more, thanks to the HeritageApp

Question: what do the Brooklyn Museum, the Ghent based Museum about industry, labour and textile and the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA) have in common? Answer: they connect the (physical) world of their collections to the virtual world in a public-friendly and successful way, thanks to iBeacons and augmented reality technology. This technology is now also gaining a firm foothold in Flanders and Brussels due to the new HeritageApp. Moreover, the app is available in four languages: good news for those who speak or understand French, English, German or Dutch!

An atmospheric video shows the possibilities of the HeritageApp.

The internet of things

Museum objects, historical sites and archival documents are unparalleled sources of knowledge. But due to the emergence of the so-called internet of things – various objects that are connected and exchange information – this heritage can obtain more content and significance.

And this is exactly where the new HeritageApp can play an important role. The app was developed by FARO, the Flemish support centre for cultural heritage, and the Flemish ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media. It uses technology designed by Vidinoti, a Swiss company affiliated with the Université de Lausanne. The HeritageApp has been launched successfully in the heritage sector in Flanders and is available in four langauges: English, French, German and Dutch.

The HeritageApp is free (both in Google Play and the App Store) and very easy to use. A simple scan with the camera lens of a smartphone or tablet gives the visitor access to sound and text snippets, video clips, etcetera. In addition, the visitor is provided with an à la carte choice and is therefore not obliged to view, read and listen to ‘everything’.

Apart from this augmented reality technology, the HeritageApp also uses iBeacons to ‘push’ information to the visitor’s smartphone or tablet. These are small Bluetooth transmitters, installed next to the works of art and other objects, that communicate with the recipient’s device. During the test phase, ease of use was strictly guarded.

Bring your own device & innovation

An international trend is that audio guides in museums are being replaced by apps on the visitor’s smartphone. Almost 2000 museums and heritage organizations now have the possibility to provide multimedia information via the HeritageApp. In recent months, dozens of employees of museums and heritage organizations have been trained to deploy the app and the back-office technology in a meaningful and interesting way.