Wearables. Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality. Passing buzzwords, or the future of museums and cultural spaces? These were the themes that Dean Johnson of Brandable covered in his Museum & Heritage Show talk on ‘Tomorrow’s Technology Today’. As he writes in the article cited below, he’s recently spent 48 hours living in VR, so he’s something of an expert.
I took away a lot from Dean’s session, given the ubiquitous contemporary thinking around VR and AR in our sector, but a couple of thoughts in particular stood out.
- Above all else, new technology should never be implemented just for the sake of it. An expensive piece of kit doesn’t add value just by its presence alone; it has to be actively adding a new dimension to the narrative of the space. If it doesn't help you get your message across, use something else.
- If some sort of AR/VR is right for you, don’t just think superficially about where it fits, actively make the new tech fit into your space. If it’s not well thought-through, it’ll just become a neglected piece of kit in the corner that people are wary of engaging with. Really work to make it something worth interacting with to help take new steps into the cultural environment.
Overall though, the deal-breaker with this new kind of tech (and I think this is applicable to any kind of hitherto unknown innovation in a cultural space) boils down to two simple questions: how do you get visitors to it, and what are they inspired to take away from it?
I joined forces with Sarah Jones, a senior media academic and 360º storyteller, to ‘live’ in virtual reality. This included eating, sleeping, running, fighting, driving, wing-walking, even getting a tattoo! Everything we tackled, we did so for a reason, not just because we could but to show the outside world that VR has a place in our lives and is there to complement it, rather than replace it.