Almost all the sites we saw in Rome that were filled with statues and other objects only had descriptions for a limited few. To me these are screaming out for investment in a mobile technology, something like a PDA with a built-in barcode reader maybe. Some of the museums had personal audio systems (like a basic CD walkman) which you got by placing a deposit when you entered the museum, but you could only really use these when you were in rooms or museums with relatively few things to see, otherwise you’d lose track of what you were supposed to be looking at. They invariably talk too slowly, and you have to listen through the descriptions of everything else before you get to the bit you want to know about. How much better to have a barcode next to each item which you can point your device at and read about instantly. Hell, it could even keep the audio system, and have it prompted to play certain parts when a barcode is scanned.

Apparently some art museums do something similar with GPS systems, where your device detects your current location and displays a small map of what’s around you, and what each piece is. The closer you get to a particular item, the more it displays about it. This is also a great idea, but seems to be better suited to art galleries than to the museums where you could have twenty pieces within a metre of each other.

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