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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 1 | Jan. 10, 2005

Get your MUSE Whenever, Wherever

By Brian Lin

If you think your cell phones and PDAs have already transformed your life, get ready for a whole new array of daily applications. Soon these digital devices will be able to serve as your personal tour guide and real estate agent, among other things.

Providing the right information at the right place and the right time through mobile devices is at the heart of the groundbreaking Mobile Media-rich Urban Shared Experience (MUSE) project. Launched in July with a $1.29 million grant from Heritage Canada and industry partners, and led by UBC education professor David Vogt, the project aims to find the best ways to make such devices as responsive to their environment as people are.

So when you’re mesmerized by Mona Lisa’s smile, your museum audio tour -- playing straight from your cell phone -- won’t rush you on to the next painting. And before you put a down payment on that dream house, your PDA could advise you of the nearest schools and grocery stores.

“With the advent of mobile devices and the availability of broadband technology, we’re no longer tied to our computers and phones,” says Vogt. “But as we roam around the city, we need access to information that will enrich our understanding of where we are, or simply make our lives easier.

“We want to find the best ways to make your mobile device and your surroundings work for you, together, to deliver the kind of information you need.”

Made up of 45 industry leaders and researchers from a variety of disciplines, MUSE aims to leverage Vancouver’s cultural, industrial and technological advantages -- not to mention the 2010 Olympics -- to make the city a mecca for context-aware content delivery.

“Vancouver is the perfect place to develop this leading-edge field. We already have well-established film, television, gaming and high tech industries,” says Vogt. “And UBC, with one of the highest density of wireless hot spots in the world, is the logical place to test the technology.”

One of the MUSE sub-project teams is already working on improving audio tours at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, while another is designing a high-tech heritage scavenger hunt in Chinatown, to be unveiled during next year’s dragon boat festival at Science World.

Aptly named AMUSEMENT, the scavenger hunt game can be played on mobile devices currently available on the market and uses the industry standard 802.11 wireless network. Clues relating to Chinatown culture are sent to players’ cell phones and points are given when they reach the correct location.

Overcoming Youth Voter Apathy

A special $297,000 project has been approved through MUSE aimed at increasing youth voter participation in the upcoming May provincial election. The project will involve students and engage them through interactive experiences such as voting on important social questions through their own mobile devices, and seeing first-hand the impact of their votes.

Supported by funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada, the project has already teamed up with student groups at UBC, SFU, UVic, UNBC and BCIT to create “mobile communities.” Content specifically designed for mobile devices will be distributed amongst participants to engage youth through their own peers.

MUSE welcomes proposals of context-aware content delivery. For more information e-mail david.vogt@ubc.ca.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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