New resources in the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub transcript

Dr Henry Chapman and Dr Richard Clay discuss new resources for the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub

Title: New resources in the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub

Duration: 4.13 mins

There's another film available on the university website where we talk the context of what's going in with the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub.

In this film which is showing you some of the new technology that we've bought that's really behind the whole vision of the Cultural and Heritage Learning Hub.

It's all about multi-touch, multi-use of technology which we think is going to revolutionise all kinds of areas of our lives in terms of our interface with computers and it's very likely to impact on offices in due course. But what we're excited by is the potential of this technology in museums, libraries and archives. New ways of displaying Heritage to audiences who can interact with objects at the same time.

We start building the Hub now, so this is our first piece of equipment. This is a multi-touch table which allows many users to look at the same material at the same time. You have lots of people touching the surface and looking at photos or any other archive material, all at once.

What this allows us to do already, although we're still building the actual environment of the Hub, we start experimenting now with what users will actually experience. Bringing out the new questions, the new ways of interacting with the digital museum collections of the future.

It's a kind of technology that allows families and school groups and grown-up users all to interact with information at the same time. Importantly, you can pitch the information at different levels. You can have different kinds of users navigating around the touch table, finding the information that excites them.

Also, because it's computer-driven, you can draw on computer game technology which we think is actually a really good way of learning and exploring through play.

This is just the start. We're going to be investing in even more multiple touch technologies. More tables, but also vertical interfaces - walls which are multi-touch, people can interact with them. What's more exciting than that is that the different bits of kit will work together. You can be looking at pictures on a table, flicking them onto the wall and you'll be able to interact with them through your handheld device, your mobile phone. It's linking all the different technologies together and that's going to become very exciting.

All of this technology - the various tables and our wall - are all going to be located in what we're going to call a prototyping hall. It's a space into which user groups can be brought by museums, libraries and archives to play with the technology, to explore the software and the content we're developing and we can study the way in which they're interacting and try and hone the content so that it works better for users.

This is very exciting for museums, libraries and archives, but's it's an area of academic study in its own right. In doing this, we're actually going to be using some eyetracking technology which is only really being used previously by massive marketing companies to check when people are looking and interacting with information.

Already, and we've only had this table here at the University for about two weeks, we've had around it all kinds of academics, working and talking together about the potential and how it can be used in their teaching but also in their own research.

We've had archaeologists, we've had art historians, we've had historians, we've had human computer interaction groups. There are all kinds of potentials for this kind of hardware. Partly in terms of studying interfaces and all that kind of thing but also actually studying objects which many of us are involved in doing. Also studying material cultures. We think this is actually a set of technology that will drive the emerging new kind of discipline where we're studying areas that we all hold in common and share interests in but that we've rarely sat down and analysed in detail together.