New Research at the BMS Lab- Personalized museum tours may be possible!

With the world slowly opening up, museums are expecting their first visitors and attempting to make their visits worth remembering. Recently, Leon Groothaar researched how museums improve the visitors’ experience with the use of gaze data and micro-narratives. 

The experiment

To answer the question, Leon thought of a system that can measure the gaze of the visitors. The gaze data was used to personalize audio tours. To achieve that he created micro-narratives that relate to the paintings. Groothaar’s goal was to uncover whether the personalization of a tour is possible based on the gaze data from visitors.

He outlined different areas on each painting and created a narrative for each. The narrative played when the participant focused on the painting for more than 4.25 seconds. To visualize the gaze, Groothaar used Tobii 4C eye tracker. The experiment had two parts. Firstly, the participants from the experiment were looking at a slideshow with four different paintings. The slideshow presented each painting for 30 seconds, with the participant unconsciously selecting a different area and thus micro-narrative. With the Tobii 4C glasses, Groothaar tracked the gaze during this period and measured which parts of the paintings were most interesting to the participants. Later, the participants saw the real paintings in an exhibition area with an audio tour. 

Paining from the experiment with the different micro-narratives
One of Leon Groothaar’s paintings split into the different micro-narratives as used in the experiment

Findings and Future possibilities

Groothaar observed differences between each set of micro-narratives that participants activated for each of the paintings; and thus, concludes that personalizing tours based on gaze data is possible. Such personalization may help visitors find information that is more interesting to them. 

Such a system may be useful for gather other information, for example, tracking how much time each visitor spends looking at a painting. Furthermore, such information can help outline the most interesting parts of exhibitions, and thus personalizing the information in the future audio tours 

Alike experiments with Tobii pro glasses 3 may be useful for analysis of the gaze data while the participant is looking at the real paintings. With technology moving forward and devices such as the Hololens 2 and the newer generations of VR headsets incorporating eye-tracking, a system may be created that disrupts the way information is conveyed within the museum. In that way, museums can make personalized tours easier based on the interests of the visitors.