Last week I visited Dapdune Wharf, the Guildford nerve-centre of the River Wey Navigations, to meet with my NT colleague Sarah, Dr Caroline Scarles of Surrey University and Dr Matthew Casey of Pervasive Intelligence. Matthew is the brains behind a prototype Augmented Reality (AR) application for cultural heritage:
What’s particularly interesting about this work isn’t the image recognition (though that appears to be pretty robust), or even the wi-fi localisation (the technology underlying Apple’s iBeacon is available on most major brands and platforms and is likely to be cheaper for cultural heritage to implement than wifi) but the potential business model. Matthew explained that the App itself would be holder for downloadable content packs created by cultural institutions. Sarah tells me that after the prototype phase, Matthew’s plan is to offer the technology for free to cultural heritage, which means that they can offer the content for free to their users. The value is in the tracking data that the app will collect as its users explore the museum. And its this that will make the technology financially sustainable.
Given the number of companies competing for contracts with cultural heritage, and space on users’ devices, this is the first business model that I think might possibly survive the inevitable rationalisation of this nascent industry.