How Artists and Galleries Use IoT Networking to Create Interactive Art Exhibits

Posted by on August 30, 2017 at 5:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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With the advent of augmented reality, smartphone apps, and tech-driven art, artists, museums, and galleries are finding new ways to make their exhibits more interactive, and with good reason. There are more than 35,000 museums in the U.S. according to the Washington Post, so to truly stand out, artists and exhibitors must bring something unique to the table.

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers the perfect platform for crafting an exhibit environment that exceeds expectations. Flexible and customizable, IoT networking allows galleries and museums to link each object in a collection to a single live network, enhancing patron engagement while also creating a new data source for curators and gallery managers. Whether it’s being used to create art, guide patrons, or reveal more about visitors’ behavior and how they experience art, IoT networking is setting a new standard for museums and artists alike.

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Networked Art: The Perfect Solution for Installation Art and Visiting Exhibits

Galleries and museums that have a reliable IoT network can draw more progressive artists, giving them a platform to truly transform an exhibition space. While some artists may be able to provide their own IoT connections for Bluetooth-linked exhibits, museums that can offer exhibitors SIM cards, robust Wi-Fi connectivity, or a low power wide area (LPWA) network are more likely to draw in large-scale, cutting edge, IoT-mediated exhibits.

But how are artists using IoT? Many see the technology as a means to bring objects to life, modify appearance based on human interaction, and challenge what it means to experience art. For example, PhotoScapeswrites of Matt Roberts, who uses the technology to create a sound experience within the museum space by sampling oceanic currents to provide data that modulates the sounds. The data is transmitted to his exhibit from nearby buoys using IoT-linked weather monitors.

Likewise, Elasticspace writes about Immaterials – a forward thinking project from Timo Arnall, Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, Jack Schulze, and Matt Jones that transforms everyday city environments into an artist’s dream world through RFID-based exhibits, networked lights, and art that changes with human touch. The work aims to reveal hidden connections between components of our everyday environment, like IoT itself, to make audiences more aware of their own place within the world. Adding an IoT network to a museum or gallery allows artists to explore new and innovative ideas and challenges them to create a highly textured sensory experience for visitors.

Wayfinding: Simplifying the Museum Maze  

Museums and large galleries can be overwhelming for patrons of all ages and physical ability. However, not every patron wants to take part in a guided tour or has the patience for paper maps that may be difficult to read and even harder to navigate. Wayfinding is transforming the museum experience with IoT intervention. Wayfinding, an expanding trend within information science, has made great inroads with the art and museum world in recent years. Very simply, wayfinding utilizes phone applications or some other assistive technology to map a patron’s journey through a given space or exhibit.

The Future of Museums describes the experience of wayfinding: “Not only can you see a map of the inside of the building, you can position yourself on that map and be alerted to content that is near to you.” Beacons along the way can be connected to an IoT network via simple and affordable RFID chips, but also may be tagged with more complex, dynamic information sources that truly interact with users. A beacon may tell users about a piece of art, give background on the artist, or even offer an educational game to teach the user more about the art they are experiencing.

Big Data and IoT: Knowing the Patrons

Once patrons are connected to a museum’s IoT network via wayfinding applications, interactive works of art or tracking technologies collecting data can deliver a better gallery experience.

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Wayfinding applications can be used to determine the amount of time patrons are spending at each exhibit and provide information about spatial preferences. Are visitors ignoring certain pieces because they aren’t interested in the artist? Or are they simply failing to make their way to one side of the gallery hall because it is less accessible? IoT can help answer these questions.

As applications can be linked to social media accounts, exhibitors even can get an idea of what their patrons are posting about a particular museum experience. Likewise, curators can use their wayfinding application to create a real-time map of their visitors to better observe where patrons go and why. For museums that want a more accurate count of their visitors, IoT-linked counting systems can be added easily at major entry points. Even an exhibit’s guest book may be added to the IoT network as more and more museums leave behind pen and paper for digital platforms. These interactive guest books can add content directly to the cloud for prospective visitors to read anywhere in the world.

Aeris Provides Elegant Solutions for Every Exhibit

Aeris works closely with our customers to design customized IoT networks for every need. We understand that art is one of a kind, and your exhibit’s network should be too. For most artists, museums, and galleries, 4G cellular connectivity will be the best option as is it allows for instantaneous transmission of massive volumes of data. Additionally, it works well both indoors and outdoors. It even may be possible for an entire museum or art district to partner and provide connectivity throughout their area, purchasing SIM cards in advance to facilitate faster integration with the network. We even can consult on specific exhibits to provide a clearer idea of what technology will be needed and how to best manage complex networks.

Ready to find innovative new ways to connect directly with your audiences? Contact us today to find out how Aeris can help.  

Topics: IoT, iot networks, art galleries, smart galleries, smart art, wayfinding