Technology has truly expanded options for museum interactivity. Visiting a museum is no longer a passive experience (at least it shouldn’t be). As we know, interactives enhance the museum experience, provide responsive interpretive options, and attract a broad audience. Audio/visual feedback components, games, and apps personalize your content for the visitor. But, museum budgets are tight, so how can a small institution harness technology to engage increasingly digitally-oriented audiences?
I posed this question to Kenneth Cline, Director of Development for Redmon Group, who has developed digital interactive solutions for museums for decades. “Gone are the days of large, expensive pieces of hardware that only perform one task. Now, we can harness the power of open source hardware platforms cheaply and off-the-shelf. Mini-computers and micro-controllers, like the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino can power complicated touch-enabled graphics or simply turn on a light at the push of a button. They are incredibly flexible.”
The Raspberry Pi is, at its heart, a teaching tool, designed to affordably help children learn how to program computers. Increasingly, developers have tapped the technology as a reliable source for inexpensive and adaptive tech solutions. At about the size of a credit card, integrating this technology won’t require a massive space overhaul.
Cline adds, “It’s a win-win for creating interactives. Open-source hardware like the Arduino and affordable-yet-powerful computers like the Raspberry Pi are avenues to concrete, reusable, audio/visual tech foundations, especially for small museums. Components are easily updated or swapped out and there is a broad support community.”