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Its all good and well to say cooltown is simple, but what do user’s think? To find out we started some user trials at the San Francisco Exploratorium, a science museum targeting approximately middle school aged kids (though weird adults like me enjoy it plenty). The museum consists primarily of hands-on science exhibits in a large warehouse. See

The study began with a “pi” station near a subset of the exhibits; each station had a variety of id technologies and a variety of handheld devices were allocated to the project. The plan was to study which id technology and which form-factor worked best. In addition, a web presence manager and content pages for the exhibits and hall were put in place.

Preliminary results have been reported and there were quite a few surprises. The most serious one is also quite simple: handheld devices don’t work great in a hands on museum. (see Evaluating the CoolTown User Experience Mirjana Spasojevic and Tim Kindberg and M. Spasojevic, T. Kindberg. “A Study of An Augmented Museum Experience”. HP Labs Technical Report
HPL-2001-178. Available as