museuminabox, somersethouse, v1

Day 5: Box with a brain

Today we’re giving the box a brain.

Can the box know what’s in it? Can it know when you pick something up? Can it tell you what it is?

Adrian has brought his magic box of tricks, and his own (amazing) brain.

Arduino kit

Adrian’s Arduino kit

We are using RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tags to identify the different objects.

The RFID stickers were a bit big for most of the objects, so we stuck them on plinths so we could attach the tags.

IMAG5509

Then Adrian did some magic…the RFID reader senses the tag, the Arduino reads the tag and sends it to the Raspberry Pi (some readers can speak directly to Pis, but we didn’t have one like that).

IMAG5510

And now when you put the Rosetta Stone on the reader you can hear what it is and a translation of the text.

IMAG5518

Now we’re going to record the names and label text for all the objects.

And we’re (well, Adrian is) going to set up an infra-red distance sensor to allow us to play different translations of the Rosetta Stone (a different language plays depending on the distance).

The options are endless…

Could people add something to the object and send it on to someone else?

Can we put different boxes in close proximity and they talk to each other?

Can the box collect stories? or responses to stories? or answer questions?

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museuminabox, start, thoughts

Super Rough Draft / V1 Planning

Harriet has laid out a useful overview of the sorts of things we’re thinking about as we embark into the unknown of The Small Museum Version 1 – you can see them photographed below. A very basic point of focus is that perhaps our central element should be the people who come into the room, and not the (very small) objects.

Long shortlist of ideas:

  • We’ll have 10 objects. We have about 10 days. Perhaps we focus on one object per day.
  • We want to explore context around each object. It’s not about showing tombstone metadata, but giving visitors a sense of what the object is and where it normally lives. Object as witness.
  • The space needs to be really dynamic. One thought is to use brown paper as our surface on the table and draw ideas all over it. We could add dates/times to paper to log their creation date/time (and potentially reproduce or replay).
  • We’re going to have a printer and a projector.
  • Use the BERG-tough technique of design-by-video during or after the event to expand on ideas.
  • Keep a count of how many people enter the room. (In a non-creepy way, or maybe in a really obvious, large, public way.)
  • Design at least two different boxes/housings for the museum in a box. Today we have a nice round Royal Doulton box that is fine for starters.
  • Design at least one RFID/NFC style interaction with one object. You place an object on a spot and something happens.
  • Tiptoe along the line of lo-fi, minimum viable museum and something that looks a bit designed, or thoughtful.

Here are Harriet’s guides for the things we’ll be thinking about.

5_other_content 4_capturing_user_action 3_interactions 2_the_space_other_stuff 1_object_content

Also, yesterday I discovered the fantastic Pop-Up Museum, out of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Of course it already exists! There’s a fantastic How-To Kit available there to help think through other stuff we’ll undoubtedly miss.

I must admit though, while I don’t necessarily want to reinvent every wheel, it feels important to stumble around a bit and find our way through doing stuff and talking to people. That’s half the fun anyway. Not knowing what the hell is going to happen on any one day, but working to a basic plan is… invigorating!

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