OBSERVE. A Multipurpose Platform for Visitor Studies and Audience Research
The overarching idea in Observe is to develop a prototype visitor studies tool from the CONTACT project into a market-ready product used to conduct visitor observations in museums, cultural heritage organizations and other institutions in the cultural sector. The aim is to introduce an innovative tool, VisiTracker, to the international market and to advance the standard of practice in the field of visitor studies. See film here.
(Left to right: Jeremy Toussaint/EngageLab, Anne Qvale, Frithjof Bringager, Birgitte Sauge/Nasjonalmuseet, Richard Nesnass/EngageLab) Photo: Palmyre Pierroux
VISITRACKER is developed by EngageLab in collaboration with the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, and has received special funding from VERDIKT, The Research Council of Norway.
About the project
There is a real need for learning perspectives, practical methods, and innovative tools that can produce greater insight into visitors’ learning and engagement in the cultural sector. Informed by findings in visitor studies research, VISITRACKER will support real-time recording and advanced analyses of observations of group behaviors and interactions, supplemented by survey data capturing attendance statistics and demographics.
VISITRACKER is the name of the tablet-based application and portal service that functions as a research tool supporting real-time observation and analysis of behavior in public spaces. VISITRACKER allows observers to collect demographic information about museum visitors or other public spaces, tracking their paths through the space and recording location, time, and types of interactions as they occur, e.g., gaze, dwell time, reading, writing, moving, holding, talking, pointing.
Visualizations of the analyzed data are available in representations such as graphs, heat maps, pie charts, and spreadsheets. In addition, VISITRACKER may be used to conduct surveys, interviews, pre/ post testing, and video recordings, and to secure participants’ consent to collect data in keeping with ethics regulations.
Pierroux, P. and Steier, R. (2016). Making it Real: Transforming a University and Museum Research Collaboration into a Design Product. In V. Svihla & R. Reeve (Eds.), Design as Scholarship in the Learning Sciences, Chapter 9, pp. 115-126, London: Routledge.
Financing and Collaboration
Observe is a 1-year project funded through VERDIKT, Research Council of Norway, 2013–2014.
Section for Research and Mediation Support, UiO leads the interaction design and programming work.
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design contributes to the design development and leads user testing.