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Harvard Museum, Remy Martin and Tulip Theme Park Adopt LabWerk's Beacon Solution

The Dutch company is also providing its mApp platform to Oregon's SamplingLab store, Italy's ZOOM Torino Biopark and the Panorama Berlin fashion exhibition.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 15, 2015

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (CHSI) at Harvard University is deploying a beacon-based system this fall that the museum's director hopes will deliver exhibit information to the smartphones of visitors and prompt them to return for additional visits. The system is provided by LabWerk, a Netherlands-based Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions provider.

Jean-François Gauvin, CHSI's director of administration and a Harvard lecturer, says he has been looking for years for an app that would enhance the visitor experience. The museum, which charges no admission fee, is small and receives 10,000 visitors annually. Many are Harvard students who use the facility to help with their own research. But the museum is not looking for more visitors per se, Gauvin says. "We're trying to find ways to bring people back," he states, "by better explaining to them what is available." And while they are there, he hopes a beacon solution will make the experience of visiting the museum more enlightening.

LabWerk and ZOOM Torino worked together to develop the ZOOM Torino app.
The system will consist of approximately 25 Kontakt.io Bluetooth beacons and LabWerk's mApp (Museum App) platform, which comprises a customized iOS-based app (LabWerk will release an Android version later this year) and content-management software. The CHSI deployment is designed to provide context to the artifacts on exhibit. For instance, one exhibit features a scientific instrument that had been collected by Benjamin Franklin in London. A beacon could allow a smartphone or tablet user to learn details of how those artifacts were collected.

Once someone has downloaded the museum app from iTunes (or Google Play once it becomes available in an Android version), using mApp's content-management software operating on a hosted server, that person will be greeted on his or her phone upon nearing the museum. The guest can then view data about the museum itself, specifics in the collection and other content while near exhibits, as well as share that information with friends via Facebook or Twitter. Once the user has received the content, that person can view it later at home, when he or she has more time.

LabWerk was founded in late 2013, says Floris Boekel, the company's CEO, and has since completed about 25 installations around the world in the museum, theme park and retail sectors. The company specializes in custom solutions unique to end users' needs, and provides a variety of beacons to users, based on the requirements of a particular deployment.

For instance, the company has also completed the prototype version of a solution known as Carly, an iOS-based app that provides information to commuters and tourists in their native language or in sign language for any who are having trouble understanding printed signage. A user of the app would come within range of the signage, and that individual's iPhone or iPad would then display a sign-language version of the text printed on that sign. (Some hearing-impaired individuals cannot read text.) This solution is being developed following a request from an academy for the hearing-impaired, and LabWerk is also in discussions with several railroad stations about piloting the system.

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