What are Location-Based Services?

Location-based services provide content that is dynamically customized according to the user's location. These services are commonly delivered to mobile devices, but can also be accessed from other portable computers, handhelds, or any Internet-capable device. Current common applications for location-based services include advertising, news, social networking, and similar services. An increasing number of mobile applications are taking advantage of the built-in geolocation capability that is increasingly a standard feature in mobile devices. Information about nearby buildings, landmarks, or other fixed features is commonplace; a growing use of location-based services is to locate people nearby — people known or unknown to the user — who share interests or experiences in common. Educational applications for location-based services are currently along the same lines, delivering relevant place-based information and allowing easy geotagging of captured data. Media such as photos and video, as well as the simplicity of geotagging, will be important aspects of location-based services as they continue to develop.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Location-based services mean that museum data no longer needs to be be tied to the museum's building itself (or its Web site). For the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this means that information about our collections could be pushed to users when those users are (for instance) physically near the studio location of a given artist, or near an excavation site. - Koven Koven Apr 30, 2010
  • In addition, museums are social spaces. Location-based services, such as Foursquare, are already being used by visitors looking to find out who else is there. While it's true that location-based services mean that we no longer need to be tied to the museum building (and I like that idea!), equally location-based services can be used to enhance the experience within the museum building. We know from our surveys that personal recommendations matter over anything else (newspaper, Web, professional reviews, etc.), and this can hold true during the in-museum experience, where people can share things that they saw and liked or didn't like, or find out if someone whose opinion they respect is at a particular exhibit and what they thought of it. The immediacy of location-based services makes this compelling (over a blog or something that happens after the fact).- allegra.burnette allegra.burnette May 3, 2010 Agree -- this ties into games-based learning, too. - ninmah ninmah May 5, 2010
  • It is also interesting to think about microlocation services that would work inside museum buildings to allow one to get connected at an exhibit level- robsemper robsemper May 3, 2010
  • Yes, I agree with the above. LBS outdoors is now a given part of our mobile experiences, so the biggest hurdle - integrating these new technologies into users' everyday lives and habits - has been overcome. Challenges remain indoors and in areas without good network (phone or wifi) coverage. This is an important area of research but I urge museums to tread carefully: literally millions of dollars have been wasted and companies have been bankrupted by museums trying to solve the indoor location-based content delivery question. This is an area where I doubt it will pay for museums to lead the technology development; instead we should build on applications that are more established (and financed) by commercial or other entities.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The description above focuses mostly on "fixed features" for location-based services, but I am also interested in the ability to "pin" information to a given location and have information pushed to a user once he/she has reached that location (a la geocaching). - Koven Koven Apr 30, 2010
  • I'm also interested in how this ties in with AR.- allegra.burnette allegra.burnette May 3, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • The ability to, in essence, re-contextualize objects that have long since been removed from their original geopolitical contexts is huge. - Koven Koven Apr 30, 2010- david.dean david.dean May 1, 2010
  • There are also new opportunities for school group interactions (and serving up content to those groups) with these location-based services.- allegra.burnette allegra.burnette May 3, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Not necessarily the same thing, but geocaching comes close to the sort of thing I'm thinking of: http://www.geocaching.com/ - Koven Koven Apr 30, 2010
Brooklyn Museum is using Foursquare, but more interestingly, Foursquare and Gowalla users are bringing their favorite museums into these location-based games themselves, without any museum encouragement or leadership. AR is all location-based. I'm very interested in the potential use of visual recognition of 3D models, created from 2D still images, as a possibly low cost way of using cameraphones to locate visitors in environments without the need to install technical infrastructure in the museum. Omniar is looking at this for their Alice AR product: http://wiki.museummobile.info/museums-to-go/products-services/omniar A summary of LBS technologies and their pros & cons that is still, disappointingly, current is at http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/ichim05/Proctor.pdf - nancy.proctor nancy.proctor May 4, 2010nancy.proctor
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