NRB attendees get an exclusive first ever look at the museum’s proprietary digital tour guide, VR and AR technologies, and more.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Museum of the Bible unveiled multiple groundbreaking technologies for the first time ever to the public at the 2017 NRB Convention (National Religious Broadcaster) in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27 – Mar. 2. Prototypes of many of the museum’s ambitious technology offerings were first made available to conference attendees, demonstrating the institution’s commitment to its mission of engaging of all people with the Bible. When the museum opens its doors in Washington D.C. this November, it will be among the most technologically advanced institutions of its kind in the entire world.
To begin the conference experience, a 15 x 24 ft. content wall floating directly overhead greeted guests as they first enter the NRB exhibit space. Designed to mimic the expansive 15 x 140 ft. LED overhead lobby mural—a permanent fixture at the Washington D.C. museum—this smaller replica rotated through images of biblical landscapes, stain glass windows, stars, planets and other heavenly bodies, transforming the ceiling into an immersive reality experience.
Among the most highly anticipated technologies highlighted at NRB is the digital guide, a proprietary, tablet-based indoor navigation system. Accurate to within 6-inches, the technology is designed to accommodate as many as 10,000 guests within close proximity and may be the most accurate indoor positioning system in the world. With an interface similar to the step-by-step navigation of Global Positioning Systems like Google Maps, the digital guide allows users to input various preferences such as how much time a guest has to tour that day, what time they would like to have lunch, their level of Bible knowledge, subjects of special interest and more. The digital guide then seamlessly curates a personalized tour based on those unique preferences.
Developed in-house by Museum of the Bible, the digital guide utilizes a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro tablet device retrofitted with expanded memory capacity, extra battery life, wireless charging capability and a dedicated circuit board, which enables the indoor navigation integration.
“The technology needed for the digital tour guide just simply didn’t exist to the level that was necessary, so we decided to build it ourselves,” says Jeff Schneider, vice president of information and interactive systems at Museum of the Bible. “To our knowledge, this was the first time ever that people have had the opportunity to interact with real-time, indoor navigation in a museum environment. It’s tremendously exciting to be at the forefront of this new wave of innovation.”
While only the adult tour was available at NRB, there are three different options available to museum guests based on age—adults, 9-12 years, and 8 years and younger. Convenient for families, the children’s tours are dynamically created in real-time, based on the tour the adult has created (ensuring families stay together throughout the day), and transform the museum into an interactive, “gamified” experience for younger guests.
For ages 8 and under, the tour will feature a character driven adventure that invites players to use informational clues scattered throughout each exhibit to solve a mystery. The game follows Courageous Pages, a fearless but mischievous lion that somehow managed to get into Noah’s Ark, allowing all of the animals to escape from the museum in the process. Once back inside, Courageous Pages has left muddy paw prints, visible on each child’s tablet, all over the museum. Complete with a point system, badges and achievement bonuses, each new mission kicks off automatically when the adult or parent enters a new room or exhibit.
For guests aged 9-12, the mechanics are the same, but the story is different.
“We’ve partnered with a 3rd party gaming studio that is doing some truly cutting-edge work in the area of gamification and educational storytelling for the digital generation,” Schneider says. “Together, we’ve created a completely unique narrative for the museum. It’s informative, formational and extremely entertaining.”
The museum’s touring platform takes the story of the Bible and reimagines it for 9-12 year olds as a steampunk, industrial allegory where a toxic and pervasive fog has overtaken the museum. Presented as a third person, 3D environment, each player must partner with different characters modeled after each exhibit in order to drive out the fog and finish the mission.
Rounding out the technology offerings for this year’s NRB, Museum of the Bible also showcased virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) stations. The VR demonstration utilizes headset devices that transform the museum’s Bible and Education Exhibit—a touring exhibit that explores different methodologies used to teach the Bible through the ages —into a fully immersive flight through history. Meanwhile, as the acronym implies, AR works differently by allowing users to augment the real world right in front of them. In this case, by using the camera on a tablet device, AR places a 3D digital layer on top of 2D images or a page in a book. For example, guests can scan the picture of a biblical artifact, whereby AR then allows them to rotate, zoom in and interact with the object on the screen.
“All of these technologies take the engagement experience to a whole new level,” Schneider adds. “We believe that tech is a powerful way to engage both kids and adults and that’s why Museum of the Bible is investing so heavily in it. The Bible has always been at the forefront of innovation, and we are putting a 21st century version of that legacy on full display. NRB was just the first glimpse of these technologies for the world to see, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue revealing to the world, what we have in store.”
Museum of the Bible – Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the Bible. In 2017, Museum of the Bible, which aims to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world, will open its 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum just three blocks from the Capitol in Washington, D.C. A digital fly-through and a 360-degree hardhat tour of the museum are available on youtube.com/museumofBible.