The second session on day 2 at the National Digital Forum here in Wellington, NZ focused mostly on the use of portable devices in museums. A highlight was the presentation by Hiroyuki Arita-Kikutani from the National Science Museum, Tokyo. His presentation was entitled, Mobile guide systems in museums through the use of portable game devices.
Developed as part of the “e-Japan Strategy,” he discussed a trial using PlayStation Portable (PSP) devices. Between PSP and Nintendo DS, there are over 4 million of these devices in use in Japan and both devices have built in wireless capabilities. In the trial, the Museum used standard HTML pages (with graphics) to create custom content pages, optimized to fit the 4″ screen of the PSP. The trial was conducted in the museum’s New Annex in the The History of Life on Earth- Human Beings in Coexistence with Nature exhibition space.
The results of the trial were mixed. While some found the devices helpful others found the devices too heavy, hard to operate, or they found the text on the screen too small to read easily. Visitors who were surveyed, said that they would like to see more interactive content (games) and video or audio clips. They also expressed a desire to to use Nintendo DS, which apparently is a more popular device.
I have to say, I’m not much of a fan of devices that come between visitors and the objects and other people found in museums, but as these devices become more popular it makes sense for us to experiment. I haven’t really thought much about PSP or Nintendo as web-platforms before today. There could be a lot of possiblities here.