May 27, 2021
Museum of the Bible (MotB), located in Washington, D.C., brings to life the history, impact and stories of the Bible. Using cutting-edge technology, the MotB creates an experience unlike any other museum in the world. With its innovative “Digital Guide,” key features are offered such as:
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Located just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the MotB is based in a converted warehouse. Unfortunately, the building's concrete and steel-heavy construction creates a challenging environment for any wireless technology as it creates shadows and dead-zones that need to be worked around.
A further challenge is the high density of people in the museum, particularly with large tour groups clustering together in specific locations. Such clustering has made first-generation electronic guides notoriously unreliable.
For its guides, the museum looked at the full range of competing location technologies, from GPS to Bluetooth® to Wi-Fi. It dismissed them because of their inability to provide the consistent, accurate location needed for the guide to be effective.
Instead, MotB turned to Ciholas' solution, powered by Qorvo's (formerly Decawave) UWB technology that had proven to be both accurate and reliable in challenging environments.
What is Ultra-Wideband? A technology designed specifically to deliver micro-location and secure communication.
At the heart of each Digital Guide is a UWB transceiver subsystem, based on Qorvo's DW1000 chip, featuring an integral UWB antenna and a dedicated microprocessor to handle UWB communications and computations.
In addition, an added FM radio receiver provides ADA audio delivery, which can be tuned to the proper channel by using the UWB location. The tablet and added electronics are all housed in a custom-made injection molded plastic enclosure with integrated handles, grips, and strap mounts.
On the infrastructure side, to meet the layout challenges of the museum, Ciholas installed nearly 600 UWB anchors to cover 43,000 square meters of floor space over seven floors.
All the anchors are networked to servers in the basement of the museum that run the Ultra-Wideband system. The servers manage the anchor network, perform anchor synchronization, perform location computations, keep logs of system data and performance, and manage the Digital Guide update process.
Data analysis derived from the Digital Guide provides heat maps that show where visitors are spending most of their time.
To overcome the issue of high-density of visitors, Ciholas tapped into the flexibility of Qorvo's UWB chips. As each device needs its own location to be used in the guide app, the Digital Guide implements “nav mode” location to reduce latency, network congestion, and increase reliability. Nav mode operates like indoor GPS, with coordinated UWB signals sent out from the anchors. These are used by the guide to compute its location 10 times per second – good enough for even the swiftest museum visitor. They also enable limitless guides to be located in any given area – so even the largest groups get a great experience.
The Digital Guide operates in ‘track mode’ as well. This allows the server to compute the device's location and use it for analytics and other system purposes. A key part of the system is the location engine, called VML. VML is particularly good in real-world situations where the UWB signal may be partially or wholly obstructed–which will occur in the museum from time to time. The VML algorithm can detect and mitigate when these occlusions occur, limiting the effect of bad data on the output and delivering best-in-class performance
The Digital Guide system at the MotB is already delighting visitors and provides opportunities for further development over time:
MotB shows how detailed, accurate location data is changing how museums and other public spaces can engage with their audiences, but don’t take our word for it – go and experience it for yourself.
Glass galley views of Washington, D.C. from Floor 6 of
Museum of the Bible.
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