If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting a major-name museum, gallery, or iconic city, you may have had the option to take part in an interactive, self-guided tour. These tours date back decades, and depending on the technology used to power it, they may have been either engaging or downright frustrating.
One of the obstacles to any self-guided tour that pits the participant against a pre-recorded form of media is in the guided notion. If the individual goes in the wrong direction, the format may have simply continued its recording or struggled to reconnect with the new direction. Even in the case of more modern smartphone app-driven tours, the user relied on things like QR code technology or a universal map to retrieve information about the location or exhibit. The problem there? You went to all this trouble to stare at a phone screen instead of appreciate the exhibit.
But the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is rethinking both the self-guided and the interactive aspects of these types of user-driven experiences. The new museum app relies on the phone’s location settings to recognize where the patron is standing, what he should be seeing around him, and then select the proper tour information for that location. The result is a seamless experience in which the user does not have to direct the phone in any way.
Best of all, the limitless software that drives the app and therefore the entire experience means users aren’t simply handed a one-size-fits-all experience. There are multiple tours to choose from, ranging from serious to humorous. If you’re an art lover, select a tour that provides an immersive experience. If you were dragged to the museum by your Tinder date, select the one for people who think modern art looks like preschool handiwork…well, hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two and actually have fun doing it.