The challenge

Not everyone can physically visit a museum

A visit to a museum can be a real eye-opener. But for some, such as students in rural areas of Australia, the aged in care facilities and those unable to leave their homes, a physical visit can be an impossibility no matter how much they'd like to go.

Our response

The museum can be in more than one place at once

We've used funding from the Australian Government to work with the National Museum of Australia to create and trial a mobile telepresence robot at the museum in Canberra.

The robot accompanies education staff through the museum's galleries, taking remote visitors on a virtual tour using a high speed broadband connection that allows remote visitors to interact with a human educator in the museum. The human educator guides the robot through the museum and the remote visitors use a panoramic camera to look around and explore items in the exhibit.

As well as being able to hear the educator and look around the museum, remote visitors are able to see and interact with information about each of the objects on display, and interact with educators on a range of experiences such as multiple-choice questions and polling. Educators are able to gauge visitor responses in real time.

The results

Unlocking national treasures

The mobile telepresence technology we've developed allows all schools with a high speed broadband connection to visit the landmarks gallery at the National Museum of Australia.

At this stage we're demonstrating the educational outcomes and benefits of enabling remote museum visits, and creating an implementation blueprint for the ongoing operation of the technology in the National Museum of Australia, and deployment in other institutions. Already, visitors are able to tour seven galleries in the National Museum, encompassing the history and culture of Australia from the early years to the present.

In the future this technology will allow all Australians with a high speed broadband connection, and especially those in rural and regional areas, to experience and access a range of our national treasures, despite the tyranny of distance.

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