Succesful Kick-off Meeting

From the 26th of February to the 1st of March 2013, the meSch team gathered to officially kick-off the project in Sheffield. Four intense days, packed with a lot of different activities were attended by teams of each of the twelve project partners.

Day 1: Engaging with technology

The meSch project consortium consists of a variety of different international experts from many fields: three different kinds of museums, human computer interaction researchers, interaction designers, personalization professionals, digital heritage experts and even a Fab Lab. Therefore, the most important goal of the kick/off meeting was to get to know each other and establish a common ground of understanding to depart from.

Project coordinator Daniela Petrelli opening the meeting

In her vivid presentation, Daniela Petrelli, project coordinator of meSch, stressed the importance of building an understanding between the different kinds of expertise in the meSch project. “We are a team of teams”, she declared, “with a huge variety of expertise. So we need to construct understanding across all of our expertise”.And how could we achieve that understanding which is necessary to establish research results that will satisfy everyone and have a real impact on everyone’s field of expertise? Well, by stepping in each others shoes and explore each others fields hands-on!

Getting down and dirty with sensors: .NET Gadgeteer workshop

First thing to explore were the possiblities of sensors, in order to generate ideas about what museums could do with them.  Phd students from the University of Stuttgart (USTUTT) gave an overview of what’s possible with sensors these days and made it clear that the possiblities in the future will be unlimited. All project partners formed groups with different expertise to get hands on experience with building devices with .Net Gadgeteer sensor kits.

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Connecting the sensors with each other

Under the expert supervision of the USTUTT phd students, everyone was miraculously able to build a digital camera from scratch – simply by connecting different kinds of sensors with each other and add a few lines of code to a program.

It works! The built-fom-scratch digital camera takes pictures.

After that, more sensor kits and gadgets were revealed and  the teams were sent off again to go wild with their imagination and build a museum-related interactive device of their own choice.

More fun sensors to build incredible stuff with

The results after one hour were quite amazing! Just to mention a few inventions: a bag that would recognize what items it held and which ones still had to be added to fulfil a quest, or a camera that automatically takes pictures whenever it was pointed at something red… Read the full report (pdf)about the results of the .NET Gadgeteer workshop written by USTUTT. It became quite obvious that even non-professionals could already achieve a lot after one hour, so we are quite curious what professionals can do by applying this technology to the museum environment!

Day 2: Users as designers

In order to prepare the three different use cases meSch will explore in the future, Waag Society organized the program of day two in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam to encourage all meSch partners to step out of their comfort zone and into the role of a museum professional. Which techniques were applied to achieve that and what it lead to can be read in detail in the blog from Waag Society on ‘Dynamic heritage and design thinking’.

Scenarios invented in the Waag workshop: Mock-up of a Greek statue interacting with audience

Overall they were quite eye-opening activities, which were later were followed by the presentation of a theoretical approach to cultural heritage by Wim Hupperetz, director of the Allard Pierson Museum, to further explore the field of museum professionals.

Wim Hupperetz explaining perspectives on cultural heritage

Conclusion

After another full day of framing the upcoming work package tasks, the meeting was concluded by a final gathering of the Principal Investigators on management issues. It is safe to say that everyone left the meeting more knowledgeable, filled with new  ideas and the clear notion that there is work to do!