Royal Ontario Museum releases iPhone application prototype

PDATE: We’ve been advised by Shelagh O’Donnell, Head of Communications that the Royal Ontario museum iPhone application is a prototype ONLY. The ROM is actively soliciting feedback and would be interested in hearing what you think of their offering. Feedback can be submitted to mobile {at} rom.on {dot} ca.

Earlier today, the Royal Ontario Museum released a prototype of their iPhone application. Being that I’m a big fan (and a member) of the museum, I decided to take a look at their offering and see what’s inside.

Upon launching the application, the user is presented with a splash screen with 5 options:

What I like about this application is that if I’m not sure of what’s going on at the museum, I can check out their calendar to see which exhibits are currently open to the public, and where to find them.

Another interesting feature of the ROM iPhone application is the addition of audio guides. Currently, there are only three available, but we’re told more will be coming soon. The audio guides range between 20 and 30 minutes in length. What’s unclear is if the audio guides are stored locally once they’ve been downloaded. (We’ve been in touch with the Royal Ontario Museum’s PR department, but didn’t hear back from them at press time. When we hear back from them, we’ll make sure to issue an update.)

UPDATE: Julian Siggers, Vice-President of Programs & Content Communication at the Royal Ontario Museum, had this to say about the audio guides: “You may download the audio guides to store or your iPhone or stream them if you have access to a 3G network. WiFi is currently not available at the ROM so if you are travelling from out of town, we encourage you to download the gallery guides before you come to the ROM. We are currently developing a new digital strategic plan for ROM and we intend to include additional audio guides – but have no timeline for them as yet.”

If you’re an infrequent visitor to the ROM, it’s easy to get lost trying to find an exhibit without a map. This application makes it easier for all visitors to find the exhibits they’re looking for. The map can also be customized to show or hide specific way points, such as bathroom, elevators or even artifacts. Bonus points for doing a good job of integrating a customizable way-finding mechanism.

Finally, the ROM has included important information about visiting the ROM, including driving directions and accessibility information, as well as ticket pricing and hours of operation.

Overall, I’m impressed with their application. From a content perspective, they’ve done a good job of integrating audio and video into the overall experience. If I had to offer any feedback, it would be to offer a customizable events whereby I could choose which types of exhibits I’d like to check out, and receive push notifications for those exhibits. I’d love to see an augmented reality experience that would allow me to use my camera to see which exhibits or artifacts are nearby and provide a quick summary to pique my interest. Finally, I’d like to be able to submit feedback of my experience as a patron of the museum.

If you’re heading to the Royal Ontario Museum this weekend, make sure to download the ROM iPhone application before heading out.

Note: The Royal Ontario Museum iPhone application is compatible with iPhone® and iPod® touch. Requires iPhone® OS 2.0 or later. Streaming video features require access to the Internet and may result in charges which vary dependent on your wireless carrier. Wireless is not available at the Royal Ontario Museum at this time.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.