Muse Webpads: Providing Museum Visitors Universal Access

Period of Performance: 09/22/2000 - 03/21/2001

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Information in Place, Inc.
Suite 206, 501 N. Morton St.
Bloomington, IN 47404
Principal Investigator

Abstract

MUSE is a Worldboard-enabled portable computer that will provide museum visitors with disabilities opportunities to enhance their learning and leisure benefits through customization of their museum experiences. These individuals often face limited choices in the museum setting, with little opportunity to incorporate personal preferences, interests Or special needs into their visit. This custom designed hardware and software tool will provide wireless connectivity to specially designed channels of information on the World Wide Web, enabling a wide range of options for content and content delivery based on personal preferences. In addition, the development of the tool will be based on universal design principles, to extend the tool's applicability to a broader audience. The device is the front-end of a larger set of standards-based open source tools which enable any Web site to provide information to museum visitors and able developer to build tools to take advantage of the infrastructure. Phase I will incorporate target audience participatory design and testing of this tool, feasibility of core technologies, and investigate commercialization and expansion of the tool, or adaptations of the tool into other leisure markets. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: With over one billion visitors annually, the market for leisure and learning tools in museums is large. There are 10,000 small and medium size museums and 200 large ones. This market is serviced by only a handful of companies and none of them providing the level of cutting edge technology we are proposing. This research may lead to a Web-based standards for the development of museum content, a WebPad wireless computing device, and an authoring tool for creating the content to be delivered on these devices.