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EAGER: An Indoor Positioning System for Informal Learning Experiences: 1346664

Principal Investigator: Joyce Ma
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Joshua Gutwill, Joyce Ma, William Meyer
Organization: Exploratorium

In this EAGER project, the Exploratorium, working with an industry partner, Qualcomm, seeks to engage in foundational research and development on an indoor positioning system (IPS) and associated applications (audio and database) in order to improve museums experiences for visitors as well as to improve the capacity of museums to study learning within museums.

Specifically, the project asks: How can museums appropriately track visitors within indoor venues in order to understand and improve their STEM learning experience? To date, there are not industry standards in terms of a hardware approach (WiFi, video, etc.) or software standards. Part of the impetus for this project is to establish learning as a focus of tracking capacity, and not merely as a secondary component of marketing-focused technologies.

The project will design, develop, and test:
(1) a whole-museum IPS at three levels of resolution: gallery, exhibit cluster, and exhibit.
(2) methods for creating and updating indoor maps at each resolution level .
(3) a current software app for delivering museum experiences as well as potential research use
(4) a prototype for a research data management system, including obtaining visitor consent for participation and validating IPS tracking compared to human tracking techniques.

Project dissemination will:
(1) develop and distribute a case study, along with lessons learned and potentially best practices, on websites and through practitioner and museum IT related conferences.
(2)share the open source prototypes distributed through common websites.

The intended impacts of this project are prototyping and testing the ability of indoor, informal learning institutions to conduct research with large data sets that were previously impractical. Potential analyses, using analytic and visualization techniques, include: overall patterns of visitation (holding times, crowdedness, tracks), temporal and sequential patterns, visualizing exhibit engagements, exhibit usage, group dynamics, and how exhibits facilitate social experiences relative to others.

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