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Local Tourist Guide in a (Linux) Box

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the long-long-long-overdue dept.

Handhelds 79

Andrew Sealey writes "Antenna Audio, the largest heritage and tourism interpretation company has just licensed a location-based media platform and associated linux portable media device from a UK company called Node to enable them to do some pretty cool stuff with traditional tourist attractions. People will hire the linux based device at their entry point and then as they walk around and explore the attraction the device will search huge archives of rich media video and audio dependent on who a user is, where they are and what they are looking at. Their top sites in the US are places such as Alcatraz, MoMA in New York and Elvis Presley Graceland's property and the rumour is that Elvis's property may be one of the first to be converted to this new technology."

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Yes, but can it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101618)

run windows?

Re:Yes, but can it... (1)

RompeRatones (898219) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101625)

what is windows?

Re:Yes, but can it... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102803)

Windows is just an interrupt vector on stereoids with a GUI that looks like something by Andy Warhol.

Windows is mostly known for:
  • BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death): just before a crash the display turns blue and displays so called information about the reason for the crash.
  • a very logical "Click on Start for shutdown".

Another feature of Windows is its constantly changing GUI... every version got a new and "improved" GUI...

Windows is manufactured by a company called Microsoft.

Laugh, but... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101773)

we may be hearing that phrase more often. And that is in-spite of MS's work to eradicate Linux from every OEM.

privacy (2, Interesting)

filefly (737894) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101629)

The privacy issues associated with this are bugging me... what a cute disguise for a way to track foreigners :-P

Re:privacy (4, Insightful)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101685)

That sounds a bit more paranoid than I believe. I think it's a good idea, to allow guided tours without needing a human drag you around and bore you with sections of the tour you don't care about and allows you to linger on exhibits you like. Plus the venue could allow the tour to be in your native language which is a huge upside. Overall, I like the idea and I see it as having a lot of potential.

Re:privacy (1)

jordie (604519) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102122)


1. Create tourist hot spot
2. Create device for automated tours
3. Fire human tour guides

Re:privacy (2, Insightful)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102167)

I'm not saying to fire the human guides, they're clearly better for group tours. I'm saying for the single person who may have a more vested interest on going solo, this could be the better solution. Let the person learn more about a particular artist, or art style, something more in depth than the tour guide who'll more than likely just glance over a section or not have to battle with 8 other people to get a question answered from a guide. It's all right there in the linux device. In fact, renting the devices might bring in revenue that would let them keep a few more people on staff. It doesn't have to be either or, remember all the gray that lies in between the black and white.

Re:privacy (2, Funny)

kyojin the clown (842642) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101706)

oh noes! they know i am at graceland!

of course, when i leave, i am unlikely to be able to keep the PDA, so the tracking will have to end there. still, should the government want to exterminate all tourists within the boundaries of graceland, you are right. there would be no hiding in cupboards.

Re:privacy (2, Insightful)

jimmypw (895344) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101743)

I don't share your concern. The worst that could happen is that they will gather statistical information on the most popular attractions and then think of ways to market those areas that are not as popular... better. It's the way of business, Supply and Demand.

ppl have to calm down after all not everyone is out to get you, some people genuinely want to make your life better. Except the govornment who tend to look after the other guy better.

Modded Troll?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102388)

Just because the comment isn't the usual "Windows/Linux/Mac Sucks" gibberish?

Its a legitimite concern.

Re:privacy (1)

filefly (737894) | more than 9 years ago | (#13104631)

Quite true... I don't suffer from excessive paranoia myself, but I must admit that my first reaction upon seeing this was "hey, another thing for the privacy-conscious among us to complain about." Upon further examination, I'm beginning to see that while it may make some people afraid for their jobs, and others afraid for their privacy, it can't be all bad. After all, it *does* run linux :)

Elvis has left the building (3, Funny)

Knome_fan (898727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101633)

Tux now lives in Graceland.

(Gee, I shouldn't post while I'm still on my first coffe of the day...)

Gadgetry (5, Interesting)

Emporerx (845349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101644)

I'm a gadget guy, so this caught my interest with a quickness. From a quick look at the site I'm just wondering...
Could there be some kind of GPS tech. involved where if you want to go to a specific exhibit in the museum it directs you that way from your current location. On a more mundane but no less important note, this would also be useful finding the restroom facilities at the game.(Important after a couple of beers)

These are the thoughts that keep me out of the really good schools I guess.

Re:Gadgetry (2, Informative)

corporatemutantninja (533295) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102229)

I was just at MoMA on Sunday (one of the locations using Node technology) but I didn't even bother with the official audio tour. Instead I subscribed to Art Mobs' [] podcasts. Best audio guides to an art museum I've ever heard.

Now if they could combine the guerilla art commentary with GPS contextualization it'd be perfect.

My dream Mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102357)

I can't wait until someone paints the words "DON'T PANIC" on the outside of the case.

Re:Gadgetry (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102841)

Not GPS, at least for the museum, and probably for the stadium too. It doesn't work without a view of the sky. If they set up fixed point transmitters the device could be designed to be able to triangulate it's position, that would probably be very useful for a museum tour. Of course, they could probably just use a short range wireless signal that activates the exhibit display when you are close enough.

Re:Gadgetry (1)

dasdrewid (653176) | more than 9 years ago | (#13104448)

I think GPS wouldn't work too well in a museum or something. It'd work great at Stonehenge, but not so much a large, thick walled building like the National Gallery in London. You'd get to much signal weakening and bouncing. They could do it so it depended on the last info point you were at, though. Like "Facing the big statue of the Greek guy, turn left and go through the door" or have a map or something. That's a cool idea, though.

First Slashdot Troll Investigation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101646)

The last few months I have been doing some research into the trolling phenomenon on In order to do this as thoroughly as possible, I have written both normal and troll posts, 1st posts, etc., both logged in and anonymously, and I have found these rather shocking results:
  • More moderator points are being used to mod posts down than up. Furthermore, when modding a post up, every moderator seems to follow previous moderators in their choices, even when it's not a particularly interesting or clever post [] . There are a LOT more +5 posts than +3 or +4.
  • Logged in people are modded down faster than anonymous cowards. Presumably these Nazi Moderators think it's more important to burn a user's existing karma, to silence that individual for the future, than to use the moderation system for what it's meant for : identifying "good" and "bad" posts (Notice how nearly all oppressive governments in the past and present do the same thing : marking individuals as bad and untrustworthy because they have conflicting opinions, instead of engaging in a public discussion about these opinions)
  • Once you have a karma of -4 or -5, your posts have a score of -1 by default. When this is the case, no-one bothers to mod you down anymore. This means a logged in user can keep on trolling as much as he (or she) likes, without risking a ban to post on slashdot. When trolling as an anonymous user, every post starts at score 0, and you will be modded down to -1 ON EVERY POST. When you are modded down a certain number of times in 24 hour, you cannot post anymore from your current IP for a day or so. So, for successful trolling, ALWAYS log in.
  • A lot of the modded down posts are actually quite clever [] , funny [] , etc., and they are only modded down because they are offtopic. Now, on a news site like slashdot, where the number of different topics of discussion can be counted on 1 hand, I must say I quite like the distraction these posts offer. But no, when the topic is yet another minor version change of the Linux kernel [] , they only expect ooohs and aaahs about this great feat of engineering. Look at the moderation done in this thread [] to see what I mean.
  • Digging deep into the history of slashdot, I found this poll [] , which clearly indicates the vast majority does NOT want the moderation we have here today. 'nuff said.

Feel free to use this information to your advantage. I thank you for your time.

Re:First Slashdot Troll Investigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101793)

Please note the following: "This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane." Good sir, I'm afraid this nullifies your entire argument! -ArmadniGeneral (I fear the offtopic modding)

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101799)

Mod parent up

Great idea.. (1)

eieken (635333) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101660)

Seems futuristic enough. Seems like it would only appeal to a very limited audience though. Probably to expensive to implement. If I went on a tour of some place exotic, I'd much rather prefer a live person giving me a tour, or a headset and audio tour then having to lug a gameboy thing around and look at it. I could see this kind of technology making an otherwise boring tourist spot much more exciting though. Oh, wait a minute...

Re:Great idea.. (1)

rune-bare-rune (74864) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101894)

Not all locations are big enough to have guides that speak Italian, French, German or Japanese on call. The possibility to give guided tours in many different languages is where this solution shines.

It is also a very good solution for city-size museums (like Venice, Firenze), where you would spend an entire day walking around.

Re:Great idea.. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102131)

You know there were these things back in the old days, my gran told me about them. Signs, I think they were called. You had to like read them or something.

Re:Great idea.. (1)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102330)

Just how much information can you cram in a sign? In how many languages? Do you really still live the same way your grandmother did?

Re:Great idea.. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13106998)

Do you really still live the same way your grandmother did?
The 'really' is redundant. It wouldn't be if I'd said I still lived how my grandmother did, but I didn't. I can see why you're so against things like reading. Sigh. The MTV generation...

Re:Great idea.. (1)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13111312)

Who said I was against reading? It's just not practical to have so much information in so many langauages crammed into a small sign or board. Had you suggested that we buy the guidebook, then you would have a point. I used to take a guide book with me on travel. Now I buy the same guide books in electronic format for my palm. There is no need to avert new technology. Sticking to the old ways is not always best. Though I guess the new gadget will turn out to be only eye candy, lots of multimedia and ads and you will be right.
BTW, I'm too old to be MTV generation, I grew up in a country without MTV and still don't recieve it. I can (and enjoy) read(ing) in 4 languages.

Re:Great idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13136299)

"Who said I was against reading?"

Well you sure didn't read the post you replied to. Did he say he was some kind of Amish?

"I can (and enjoy) read(ing) in 4 languages. "

Big fat fucking wow.

Re:Great idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13105207)

Signs at tourist attractions seem to vary from being in just 1 language to being in virtually every language. Until they are in all the languages for all the tourists visting them this thing has a possible market. It also makes it possible to update content on a regular basis, say changing the description at night to point out a lighting affect. You don't generally change signs very often.

Re:Great idea.. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13107222)

Signs at tourist attractions seem to vary from being in just 1 language to being in virtually every language.
It would be pretty hard for them to not fall in that range, would it not?
Until they are in all the languages for all the tourists visting them this thing has a possible market.
There's a concept in econmomics called economies of scale. It implies that if it's not worth typing out a few sentences explaining the history of, say, Notre Dame cathedral in Tibetan (because you only get 2 Tibetan visitors per year) it sure as heck ain't worth creating a whizz-bang multimedia film about it. In Tebetan.

That's leaving aside the fact that if you happen to be at Notre Dame, you ought to be looking at freakin' Notre Dame.

changing the description at night to point out a lighting affect.
If you need something to point out a lighting effect at night, either the lighting or you is a bit dim.

Yet another example of 'solution in search of a problem syndrome'. Although it does run linux, so it must be teh r0x0r!

Distraction? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101672)

I think it's quite weird, distracting the tourist from the real thing. Sure, some trivia may be useful, but do I really want MEDIA flooding me when I stare at something ? Isn't the whole point of BEING there kind of defeated by staring at multimedia available to you from anywyere else ?

Re:Distraction? (2, Informative)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101698)

You know you could always turn it off, or not get it at all, I don't think they are suggesting that using it at all times is mandatory... I myself would like something like this. I live in the metro DC area and would use this often if they implemented it at the Smithsonian.

Re:Distraction? (2, Insightful)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101717)

If they use it correctly it could be great, imagine for one person looking at a painting it could be a 2 minute quick rundown of the painting and it's significance, and for someone else standing right next to that person it could be a one hour in depth bio of the artist, a demo of how the paint style is done, a video of the inspiration place of the painting, show work of the work of his mentor's and people who were inspired by the artist and then show you a realtime gps map of where to find their work in the same museum and on and on and on. It could be as much or as little as you want it to be, it all depends on how well the venue uses it.

Re:Distraction? (1)

rutherfordium (898061) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102181)

I agree. You're at the Louvre Museum, are you going to go through the museum looking at the bloody PDA or actually looking at the Monets on display ?

I certainly don't want to see/hear the condensed Reader's Digest biography of Monet. If that's what I want I don't need to physically be there.

Hehe (1)

ashyanbhog (852510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101673)

"walk around and explore",,,,,,,, "device will search huge archives of rich media video" got a min it sound like MS hype machine at work....

Spyware ?? Adware.?? (3, Interesting)

Jeet81 (613099) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101678)

What about adware concerns? I am sure it will track all your whereabouts at all times and send you ads relating to those whereabouts. Technology is all about profit!

Alcatraz (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102313)

Appearing on display: Prison Mess Hall

Voice on device: "This is the Prison Mess Hall, where gansters such as Al Capone and the Birdman ate there meals. The prisoners were served nutritious meals ... "


"Speaking of nutritious meals, did you know that McDonald's on Market Street in San Francisco has its Fruit and Walnut Salad on sale for 99 cents? Get your FRUIT BUZZ after you escape from Alcatraz!"

I recently went to Alcatraz... (4, Interesting)

Atario (673917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101682)

...and I just hope they make them less restrictive than the current audio-tour players. They were ok in most respects, except that it was not possible to rewind beyond the most recent "checkpoint" on the tour. Missed the end of that bit? Sorry, gotta keep the turnover up...keep moving!

Besides that, I think it would be rather distracting from the real-life thing you're there to see to have to devote a lot of eyeball time to watching a tiny screen. Much better would be some sort of head-mounted heads-up display overlaid on whatever you're looking at (inertial orientation sensors?). Circles and arrows (and an audio paragraph describing what each one is (thanks Arlo)) would actually be quite an improvement over the clunky method in the audio-only tour: "Now walk toward the door, away from A and B block, and stop at the windows on the right..." Sheesh.

Come to that point, it would probably be simpler to have wireless headphones fed from a roving tour robot, with a high-mounted screen to watch suplemental materials on, and a laser pointer to...well, point things out. This would actually be better than regular human tour guides, as competing tour groups would wind up competing with each other for sound.

Unless maybe you just give the human tour guide a corresponding headset mic and a laser pointer. Then all you're missing is the actual supplemental video. Hmmm.

Re:I recently went to Alcatraz... (5, Funny)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101731)

Sign Your Idea May Be A Little Too Complex #984:

It contains the phrase "it would probably be simpler to have wireless headphones fed from a roving tour robot"

Re:I recently went to Alcatraz... (1)

StupidStan (773027) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102069)

Sign Your Idea May Be A Little Too Complex #629

It contains the phrase "some sort of head-mounted heads-up display overlaid on whatever you're looking at (inertial orientation sensors?)"

Re:I recently went to Alcatraz... (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13109297)

A more complicated version of this was invented several years ago at MIT Labs -- their version had AI Vision to see posted "barcodes" and use those to know what and where to overlay. My position/orientation idea should be simpler than a several-year-old techonology, yes?

Robot not needed (1)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 9 years ago | (#13106686)

Yeah, what the hell is that bit about the robot? It's completely unnecessary.

Carlsbad Caverns has (used to have?) a system of repeating audio at various points, transmitted by very low power FM (or is it AM?). You rent and carry a small receiver with you, and listen to the audio at various places along the tour. The transmitters are clearly marked, so all you have to do is stand next to one, and you get some info. Each audio loop is fairly short, so if you miss something, just wait for it to repeat.

It works great, is cheap and done entirely with simple analog equipment, and best of all, doesn't require a friggin' robot to work.

Re:I recently went to Alcatraz... (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13109424)

Wireless headphones are common consumer-level items; and when I say "robot", I don't mean The Terminator. I'm talking about one of those hospital-bots -- travel a predefined route, avoid obstacles/announce "excuse me", display video and audio (the latter through the a transmitter, of course). It would be simpler in that it wouldn't need the pill delivery/what-have-you mechanisms that a real hospital-bot has. And I remind you that those hospital-bots have been around for years and years. None of this is new, folks...

Bodyworlds 2 audio tour (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101904)

The audio tour for Bodyworlds 2 [] just had a handheld device with a numeric keypad, and each display had a two digit number. You punch in that number, it tells you what you're looking at. This should be comprehensible to anyone able to use a telephone. I believe there were also pause, seek, and repeat functions, but anyone should be able to repeat the whole loop without asking for help (just punch in the number again). Not only that, but the same text was printed on a paper sign within the exhibit, along with the number in large print. There weren't any accommodations that I can recall for the blind, but I'm not sure how much they would get out of an exhibit you can't touch. There were some items not behind glass, but I'm not sure anyone wants to wander around feeling up plastinated bodies.

Anyhow, there was really no forced movement through the exhibit, and in some places not even a sense of direction of flow. There were many looping paths you could take that eventually covered everything in a theme before moving onto the next major portion. The only restriction was that once you left the first half of the display (they were in separate halls) you couldn't return there. Other than that, you were free to wander around within the current hall. The staff seemed much more preoccupied with keeping fingerprints (and kid noseprints) off the glass than with keeping any turnover rate. Everyone else crowded around the muscular and skeletal exhibits, but I was more interested in the neural exhibit in the opposite corner.

Sometimes dead simple really is better. Don't overthink the problem.


Re:Bodyworlds 2 audio tour (1)

stretchyboy (716878) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102252)

Whitby Abbey [] and several other English Heritage [] sites that kind of audio tour.

However this device was too complex for my Gran (she can use a telephone ... omg can she use a telephone....., but she couldn't get this gadget thing to work for her. And Partially sighted / blind visitors would have difficulty with the number on sign interface.

A device that knows where you are and can thus be set up to just play when you are in the right place is a much better idea (a great idea). (It can obviously do much cleverer things too).

Also One of the major let downs with such places is often the fixed schedule of audio/visual presentations (I always walk in just about half way through.. too late to have a clue what its on about to early to stand about for the next one) If you are carrying your own media player then there is no need to wait for a simple information film.

The GPS is of course great but does it also have a digital compass so it can tell which way you are looking (just to mke it idiot proof).

Hehe (1)

ashyanbhog (852510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101712)

"walk around and explore",,,,,,,, "device will search huge archives of rich media video" for a minute it sound like MS hype machine at work.... PS: are the tourits supposed to looking around the heirtage site or watching the device search and play from its huge meadia rich archive !?

Embedded Linux products (1)

concept10 (877921) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101729)

I probably would'nt use this product but I enjoy the fact that Linux is enjoying much success in the embedded market. has a recent article / [] about another GPS enabled device. This also brings a question to mind: With the recent buzz about the video iPod, should Apple develop a small footprint of OS X and Aqua for inclusion into some smaller gadgets and devices?

A change of office (1)

aaron_ds (711489) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101733)

Move over Elvis; Linux is the

Re:A change of office (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102272)

hahaha, you're sooo funny ... fagot.

Linux is the shit and pollutant of this world, it's primarily stifling innovation.
Not only is linux lagging behind almost everything Microsoft does, but the linux world ends up copying and benefiting from Microsoft's research.

Who's the real innovator?

Also, I think you'll find BSD / OSX is in fact the king of the OS world.

Site Design Inspiration (0, Offtopic)

27flaming_monkeys (801682) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101745)

Looks like their web designer has been hanging around Novell's web site [] too much.

Only new on linux (1, Informative)

ear1grey (697747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101748)

This application isn't exactly novel, and not really "new technology" - the story is just pandering to Linux fanboys. Please, put the iconic evanelism aside, get over the my OS is better than yours tedium and concentrate on the usefulness and usability of the service that's delivered.

Companies such as Lapavalley [] have been successfully delivering portable multimedia guides for many years already. I've used them in Marwell Zoo [] where they'd used Palm Tungsten's to great effect, with kids, grannies, teachers and geeks all having an equally enriching experience.

"Node" may have a novel application that delivers knowledge in a new way, but fundamentally nothing is new, apart from using linux, and that doesn't matter to the overwhelming majority of device users.

Re:Only new on linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102320)

I completely agree!

Not sure why they've modded you down, possibly the linux fanboys being fagots as always.

The visitor's own PDA/phone for guided tours..? (2, Insightful)

riflemann (190895) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101752)

Having used those handset audio guided tour things, I can see that this is certainly a step up.

What would be even better would be to have some standard system whereby anyone with a wireless enabled PDA type device can walk into some attraction/theme park, and fire up their own PDA through which the audio/video can be viewed over some standard URL. Those rental things are often damaged or otherwise not working a lot of the time anyway.

The next step (or perhaps the first step) could even be a system where any mobile phone can be used as a guided tour handset. A combination of a micro-cell and custom phone system (Asterisk?) could achieve this.

Re:The visitor's own PDA/phone for guided tours..? (1)

oerd (821771) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122844)

you seem to be forgetting that these companies have to make some money to keep offering those services.
I don't think some coins offered voluntarily by tourists at the exit would make up for their expenses.

any login/credit-card-payment etc would complicate the system and scare away those concerned about their personal data being gathered by some company.
to me, paying cash at the entrance (hirepoint they call it) and not worrying about the cellphones' batteries doesn't seem that bad at all

Missing a big one here (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101761)

I have thought about building a small system for Homes. It would be nice to advertise your house via a local website. As the car drives up, the customer can have info and a virtual tour of the place. In addition, they can save the buy info on their computer.

Waiting for the next generation device (1)

erik_norgaard (692400) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101767)

Now, I'm just waiting for the next generation device:

* The device you buy that hooks up - world wide - on which ever avialable network and determines where you are to give you the travel- or other relevant information.

* The device that reads ahead in time and knows where you're heading to give you the information before you get there

* The device that reads your mind and knows where you really want to be and gives you the information on how to get there, where to stay, and where to get a stiff drink when you arrive - not to mention, which excuse to use for your boss.

Then we're talking some intersting stuff.

Really, it shouldn't be that difficult to get the first part, hook up a laptop with a GPS and an internet connection and create a GPS based interface to or some other travel guide, we have google maps and earth, this must be close coming up!


If only... (1)

CaptainFork (865941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101819)

...Linux could guide me though installing device drivers or a GCC cross-compiler!

I have used this, and it rocks !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13101828)

It is true that the largest heritage and tourism interpretation company has just licensed this location-based media platform and its associated linux portable media device from a UK company called Node. It will enable them to do some pretty cool stuff with traditional tourist attractions. People will hire the linux based device at their entry point and then as they walk around and explore the attraction the device will search huge archives of rich media video and audio dependent on who a user is, where they are and what they are looking at. Their top sites in the US are places such as Alcatraz, MoMA in New York and Elvis Presley Graceland's property and the rumour is that Elvis's property may be one of the first to be converted to this new technology

Finally (1)

jon855 (803537) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101833)

no more BSOD Tours. At least, that's out of the picture.

All I can say is (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101842)

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Already implemented (3, Informative)

Kuruderu (203436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101845)

A small county in Denmark has already implemented this idea, aCon allows tourists to dial a phone number from their cell phones and via the phone recieve a detailed description af the attraction or site they are at. Not as "media rich" as this story's device this i think is more user friendly and less invasive in terms of privacy. Also it can be done via _any_ cellphone that works in Denmark, Europe.

Re:Already implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13105293)

Vodafone Italy do something similar called OmniArte. They put up signs in a few popular tourist sites and you can dial a number and get a commentary (in english and italian) about that site. Unfortuantely the number of sites which do it is pretty sparse and the descriptions (at least in english) aren't really any more informative than a guide book.

Reminds me of Pal Mickey (1)

sc00ch (254070) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101858)

Disney has a great fun way to explore their theme parks in Florida. Pal Mickey is a little toy that vibrates and giggles as you walk past various hotspots dotted around the parks. You squeeze his tummy and he says something to keep kids interested in the likes of Epcots world showcase (a bit like a museum in places) or messages about queue lengths and show times. The interface is very simple and non intrusive, you can just ignore him if you are busy eating or something and he'll repeat his message up to 5 times if you squeeze him again within 20 seconds of him finishing his speech. He also has a variety of games and corny jokes to keep kids occupied whilst queuing. Very clever little device. []

Questions of OS aside... (1)

de Bois-Guilbert (807304) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101874)

...this sounds interesting, as long as they "involve" the user to a larger extent than previous, similar efforts.
Perhaps each sector of could be presented in an icon-based GUI, allowing users to choose what (and when..) they want information about.

On a side note, this could also mean new employment opportunities for webdesigners and such...

Node are based just up the road from me... (2, Interesting)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101890)

...and an ex-colleague of mine works there. Every so often, he spends a day wandering around fields testing the location based stuff out.

They seem like a pretty bright bunch of folks. I've been meaning to go up there at some point and have a play with one of these gadgets, but I haven't found the time yet. Anyway, apparantly, it all Just Works.

It already exists: its called a podcast (1)

swissfondue (819240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101928)

There are already so called "soundseeing" audio guide tours which can be downloaded to your favorite mp3 player. Museums, City tours.

The color screen iPod can now show album art from podcasts. So I could very well imagine an audio tour which at every site shows you a picture of what is being described and then showing you an arrow or mini map of which direction to take next.

I've tried to get Zurich tourism board interested in creating such free audio tours, but no response yet. Maybe all those tour guides do not want to lose their jobs?

I can imagine a service where the local tourist information center allows you to download (or rents) out an iPod with color screen to visitors complete with various audio-picture guides.

So why create another proprietary HW-SW package to do the same thing already available?

Grumpy old man says... (2, Interesting)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#13101954)

When I walk around a stately home I don't fancy wearing headphones, I don't want to have to fiddle with buttons, and I am quite capable of looking around me and reading the catalogue or notes in the room. Staring at a small LCD screen when I am in 'the great room' seems like going to a brewery and drinking from a can!

I also wonder what effect all the additional multimedia presentations will have on throughput - if many people start to linger to watch the material then it may cause a build up of people in certain areas.

I can also see people bumping into each other as they focus on the screens rather than where they are going!

Hire cost will also be a factor - what if a family is touring and mum, dad and the kids all want a look-see - are we sharing headphones? Will all the tugging and pulling give the headphones a short life - fair enough they only cost around 30p a set trade price (for generic stereo headphones), but it soon adds up.

I'm sure this gadget will be useful for people with visual or audio impairment but the whole business of charging, cleaning, maintenance etc. for a fraction of the overall visitor base seems excessive for the ROI. Oh, and how many are going to get nicked by /. geeks (only the dishonest ones, of course!).

I'll take the random-access guide book with beautiful pictures and descriptive text that I can take home and look at again and again at my own pace.

Re:Grumpy old man says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102263)

Oh, and how many are going to get nicked by /. geeks (only the dishonest ones, of course!).

Yeah, great idea, lets steal something with built-in tracking ability. IIRC, It uses the device's location to determine data displayed. Which means that, yes, the location of the device is being tracked.

It'd be fairly simple to have the tracking ability on its own 'circuit', so to speak, so that simply shutting the thing down or pulling the battery would be insufficient to disable the tracking...

hardwired: where are we really going? (0, Troll)

already_gone (848753) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102026)

& just whois going to be yOUR 'guide' after the big flash?

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it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

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"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Fantastic (1)

paulbawon (778785) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102052)

I have to say the mobile industry has been crying out for this kind of application. 3 minute pop videos and 30 sec football clips are not really what people want on their mobile device. However, media that is tailored to who they are and where they are is far more attractive. Imagine being able to chop the Blair Witch video up into segments and play it back at locations in a really scary wood - the would be fantastic. T

Plus 3, Tr0ll*) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102408)

as to wHich *BSD (7700+1400+700)*4 GNAA on slashdot,

At the van Gogh exhibit (1)

dickens (31040) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102615)

at Boston's MOFA, I used a self-guided tour thingy that seemed to be based on a cd player.

The beauty of it was that I could wait until I was actually able to see a particular painting up close (in the very crowded gallery) before playing the audio clip associated with that painting.

So I think you have to leave it up to the user when to play the content rather than just triggering it based on location.

Oxymoron (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13102621)

Isnt "local tourist" an oxymoron?

Anyone seen the Experience Music Project (2, Informative)

eWalker (585020) | more than 9 years ago | (#13102636)

This sounds a lot like the devices used at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, WA. They have a short piece on the technology on their website []
Museum Exhibit Guide (MEG) Device The perfect virtual "companion" while visiting the museum, this handheld technology provides a completely customized tour of EMP. Delivering to the visitor hours of superior, high-quality audio, video, and graphic content, the MEG device represents one of many ways EMP redefines what it means to be a museum. The MEG device utilizes the Microsoft Windows CE operating system, is capable of storing 20 or more hours of CD-quality audio, and uses the latest audio compression technologies. This audio content enriches EMP by giving visitors personalized access to more information about a particular gallery, exhibit or artifact. Items of particular interest can be bookmarked for future reference in the Digital Lab.
The EMP device uses some version of portable windows (the first device I used crashed and showed me a bunch of windows errors!) It's great to see linux used in this type of technology.

Saw a similar thing earlier this year... (1)

CheeseyDJ (800272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13103585) Amsterdam []

What I want (1)

sysera (809709) | more than 9 years ago | (#13106690)

as a consumer is a product that will track my location via GPS, and not only tell me where I am on a map, and where I need to go.... is show me where the damn bathrooms are! :)

museums, visitors, and digital guides (1)

moaalc (863734) | more than 9 years ago | (#13111788)

As a master's student of museum studies and an intern who is working for a company that produces similiar devices, I have to agree with most posts: the tech isn't really new, nor is the idea, and human guides are desirable in many situations. However a digital guide provides many more possibilities of user accessibility and interpretation: information can be distributed in many languages, text, audio, video etc, this is imporatant for persons with disabilities. The content can be tailored to provide alternate interpreations, this is especially important for ethnographic exhibitions where the point of view of the institution often differs from that of the source community.

For the tech, the company I work with produces guides that are gps enabled, others that allow you to use your own device, and more that take you through an interactive game which is part tour part treasure hunt and part RPG. We are currently building a guide which is user updateable wiki style so that a visitor can post their own interpretations/images/soundbytes etc for others to see/hear, again not a new idea, but any way.

That said the technology is currently lagging and lugging a gameboy or even a palm around is a problem. More so the screens are too small and touch screens can be a problem for persons with low vision or arthritis. In addition digital guides increase user interaction with the exhibitions and allow them to move at their own pace; they can decrease visitor interactions with each other, as each visitor is a self-contained unit rather than a group of interacting individuals.

As always it is a give and take situation. Additionally museums must consider cost, one full time human guide costs as much per year to maintain (salary, benefits, etc) as it does to custom produce a small "fleet" of digital guides. The finance situation of the cultural sector is dismal and we will be, and are, seeing fewer and fewer human guides. Hopefully more museums will be making use of such technologies to maintain visitor comprehension, or they willl cease to be relevant.

Maybe it can include a translator and phrasebook (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13111952) case a tourist who doesn't speak the local language wanted to ask locals for directions. A Hungarian tourist with such a device in their hands comes along and asks you to fondle their bum, and you can give them directions to the station, which the device will translate into Hungarian for them,
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