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It’s a common sight in museums and cultural centers these days to find visitors looking up the work they are seeing on their smartphones, or perhaps even sneaking in selfies with the exhibits. With this being the case, UAE-based technology startup Zero.1 wants to put smartphones to use for a richer tour experience. Zero.1 has developed a light fidelity (LiFi) powered app called ART4U, which enables interactive and information-rich experiences for visitors at museums, galleries, and similar venues. With LiFi being an emerging network technology that allows high-speed data transfers using light, Zero.1 has been putting it to use building solutions for its Intelligent Outdoor Tower Automation (IOTA) product range, and now with the ART4U app. The Zero.1 team is currently working on refining the app, and expects it to go live by the end of 2016. Activated by a LiFi beacon positioning system, the ART4U app can enable users to choose between a quick tour and a full tour option (in audio or text format), following which it creates a personalized tour guide for the user. Further, users can also choose to receive trivia on their favorite exhibits or artists in the form of articles and videos that can be downloaded directly on to their smartphones.
A demo of Zero.1's LiFi technology. Image credit: Zero.1.Zero.1 CEO Marc Fleschen says that ART4U was developed in response to the global rise in cultural tourism, with a greater demand for interactive experiences. But for ART4U’s intended benefits to reach the user, the infrastructure support from venues is crucial. “The investment [from museums] is centered on the retrofit of the existing light network to LED, which, in any event will be a goal for all large venues in the coming years,” Fleschen explains. He backs the thought by noting that the use of LED technologies will also bring significant savings to energy costs for the venues, given that they achieve 80% greater efficiency than traditional systems. But that’s not all. For museum managers, there is a return on the investment in the form of insights on visitor behaviors that ART4U can deliver. In a statement, the company says that managers can identify the venue’s “hot” and “cold” zones, best and least favored exhibits and services, etc., which would allow them to optimize their strategies for the museums per se. And will your favorite museums and art hubs be covered under ART4U’s net? “Work is underway [on this], and pilots are being incubated now,” Fleschen says. “Our current collaborations are under wraps; however, together with our commercial partners, we will make formal announcements on these soon.”
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