GLAMi nomination: A Case Study On Using Voice Technology To Assist The Museum Visitor

nominated by: Manish Engineer, Seattle Art Museum, USA
institution: The Museum of Modern Art
category: Museum-Wide Guide or Program

In late 2014, the Amazon Echo was introduced as a consumer oriented smart speaker and in home assistant. The steadily increasing popularity of the Echo, with its constantly growing set of “skills”, reflects a growing awareness by consumers and businesses alike of voice activated technologies not dissimilar to Siri. In early October 2016, Google announced their own smart speaker assistant, the Google Home and two months later, opened its platform up through its Actions on Google functionality for third party software applications integration.

As voice activated smart devices become more mainstream with consumers, we at The Museum of Modern Art have taken steps towards analyzing its potential uses for visitors, especially those who are visually impaired, for way-finding and engagement with the museum collection. We have integrated the Amazon Echo with the MoMA Collections database and built it a new “skill” for answering queries related to modern and contemporary art at MoMA along with key information asked by visitors.