You’d been to the Louvre before, but always as a patron. You must have looked at it with very different eyes when you went there to investigate.
That’s true. We were given a special pass, and we went all around looking at all the inner systems from behind the scenes. We were able to go into the museum on a day when it was closed to the public, and wander around studying the insides. I took a ton of pictures with my Nintendo 3DS.
What I realised then was just how much fun it was to look at the 3D photos that I had taken. It made me think that museums weren’t just about the works inside them – the building and the atmosphere was also a lot of fun. We thought it would be fun to add some more value to the software – to make it like a souvenir of your trip to the museum, rather than just a museum guide.
Oh, so that’s why it’s also software that allows you to take home the museum experience.1818. Software that allows you to take home the museum experience: A packaged version of the downloadable software Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre is available for purchase only at the Louvre Museum gift shops.
That’s right. Of course, it also functions as a proper audio guide. We put in 3D photos of the interior viewable from all 360 degrees, 3D models of the statues viewable from any angle, high resolution photos, and also a tour feature, and it turned into a really enjoyable piece of software that’s just fun just to use. While there, I came across a sort of paradox: I was looking at a visual guide when you’re there in front of the real thing! (laughs)
Even though the real thing is right in front of you. (laughs)
But if it’s in high resolution, you can actually see tiny details of works like the Mona Lisa19 that you couldn’t really see in person.19. The Mona Lisa: An oil painting by Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci.
True, you can’t actually get very close to the real Mona Lisa and can only see it from a certain distance. So in a way you can see it much closer than you can in person. The audio guide is quite in depth as well, right?
I’ve heard that there’s about 37 hours of audio. And that’s just in Japanese.
Well, they do say that you need at least a week to really see the Louvre. So it makes sense that there would be so much.
There are over 700 descriptions, and about 500 of those are pieces on exhibit in the museum. You can only see about 20 to 30 works on a single tour of the museum, so if you study beforehand with this software, and study again when you get home, you’ll really gain a deeper understanding.
That makes sense.
While in the museum, the guide changes automatically based on where you are standing. With a conventional guide, you listen to a description by entering the corresponding number, but if you use this software, the guide automatically plays the right description corresponding to where you’re standing once you select the museum tour mode.
Oh, so that’s where the know-how from the location detection at Ikspiari came into play.
Yes. There are systems out there that are being tested at other museums where the guide changes automatically as you walk, but most of them use infrared and many of them are unstable.
You’ve got a lot of information about the kind of audio guides being used all over the world, because you rent an audio guide whenever you go to an art museum.
We had done a lot of tests, so we were able to get something that can gauge location with a very high degree of accuracy.
I’d always had an image of audio guides as being something very passive. You just have to listen to the audio it’s playing. But having used this software, I really felt that it gives a much richer, more active experience through the use of the technology built into the Nintendo 3DS system.
That’s true. If you are renting it and using it for the first time, it’s made so it can guide you without having to control it a whole lot, but once you get an idea of how to use it, there are a lot of fun things you can do with it.
The thing that I thought was really interesting, looking at it from the perspective of an observer, was that usually, when a family goes to a museum, the parents explain to their kids how to use the audio guides. With this software though, you see the kids who are used to using a Nintendo 3DS explaining to their parents how to use it as they look at the exhibits together. Seeing that made me kind of happy.
The user experience does feel a lot like a game. If you’re using it in the museum, and you search for a work of art you want to see, it will show you the shortest route there, and you can also use it to play a game, like “Find the works of art in the Louvre!”
The Louvre Museum itself is a bit like a maze, after all.
It’s three big buildings with one underground and three above ground floors each, and they change passageways from time to time, so I heard that even the local staff sometimes get lost! (laughs)
So it works well not only as a guide to the works of art, but also a map. But you would need a lot of antennas to put a location detection system in such a large space as that museum. How many antennas did you have to put up?
I believe it was…over 500.
500?! That many? When I first heard you’d taken that approach, I thought, “Why are they being so reckless?!” I mean, it’s such an important, historical building, I never thought we’d be able to put up location detection systems here and there in the Louvre Museum!
We did have a lot of restrictions. We couldn’t use nails on the building, and we couldn’t put anything on the floor. So we had to be creative with our techniques and hide them on the ceiling or behind doors. And then we had to do various modifications because we couldn’t have them look too obvious, so we made them the same colour as the walls and things like that.
Wow… If anyone has the chance to visit the Louvre, please do see if you can find any of these antennas. (laughs)
The most difficult thing was that the Louvre Museum is always updating its exhibits and changing, so it needs constant upkeep.
You have keep things updated, like “Such-and-such art work is unavailable for exhibit at this time, as it is on loan to such-and-such museum.”
That’s right. For example, right now the Nike of Samothrace20 is currently in a different place for restoration. So in order to reflect the most up-to-date data, we made it in a way that the data constantly updates so it reflects the most current information. 20. Nike of Samothrace: Also called the Winged Victory of Samothrace. A statue of Nike the goddess of victory, found on the Greek island of Samothrace. It has been moved from its usual exhibition area for restoration, and visitors to the Louvre Museum will be unable to view it between September 2013 and summer 2014.
So it even handles that kind of thing. I feel like we’re becoming strangely knowledgeable about the real nature of operating an art museum.
That’s true. Our own (Takao) Sawano-san21 has been working really hard at this part of it all.
21. Takao Sawano: General Manager of Technology Development Department, Entertainment Analysis & Development Division. He appeared in Iwata Asks: Wii Fit Vol. 2 The Wii Balance Board.
Sawano-san has been your technology partner since Shigureden.22
22. Shigureden: An exhibition covering the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (Ogura Anthology of 100 Poems by 100 Poets) that opened in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto in January 2006. Operated by the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Cultural Foundation. Visitors were able to experience the world of hyakunin isshu using a guide system called Shigureden Navi on a Nintendo DS system. See the Shigureden official home page for details.
Yes. And all the museum staff really worked hard as well.
This is something we could only do with support from others. We’ve been so grateful for all the help that so many people have given us in order to really make good experiences for our customers.
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