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High Tech Museum Guides

Boot Camp feature for Monday, October 4, 1999

When you think art museum, you don't usually think high tech. But just wait. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. Some new technology can do a lot to enhance the viewing of some old works of art. Intel has begun field testing tablet PCs, small portable computers, to guide visitors through exhibits at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art. Intel's Ralph Bond says using the technology created a kind of dilemna....

"Are we going to enhance the experience with this tablet PC or are we going to create a distraction. And of course as educators we want to avoid the distraction thing like the plague. And I think we have found a good way to do that, through audio prompts and visual cues on the tablet PC. Users of the tablet PC in the gallery know when to be glancing down, when it's appropriate, at the screen to perhaps see a photograph of the artist ...and when to return their eyes to the primary mission. And that is looking at the actual art work before you.

Intel's vision is to create smaller lightweight computer guides...that will communicate with servers embedded in museum walls. In the meantime, you can check out the online version of the Whitney exhibit at artmuseum.net.