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 http://www.exploratorium.edu/guidebook/
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 http://zing.ncsl.nist.gov/ubicomp01/papers/Exploratorium-UbicompPosition.pdf and M. Spasojevic, T. Kindberg. “A Study of An Augmented Museum Experience”. HP Labs Technical Report
HPL-2001-178. Available as http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2001/HPL-2001-178.html)