Why Guidly is not using QR codes or Bluetooth beacons ?

Let’s start for QR codes – there are 2 issues here, first of all there is not standard pre installed application on the phone which can read them and second even if user has one then it takes time. Or you can ask the question yourself – when last time have you used QR code ?

Now let’s get to Bluetooth beacons (aka. IBeacon) this is even more tempting but as everything what is shiny there must be trap somewhere, and yes there is quite few, first of all phones today don’t have standard app which allows to read beacons, even if will be introduced soon users will have to start getting familiar with it but that will be not very soon. Other issue is that beacons send signal all around the place, that signal bounces all around the exposition area, as result being even very close to the object you might receive signal for other beacon then the one which is closest to you. Last issue is the battery life of beacon, after few months up to a year the battery dies, needs to be replaced, roughly calculation if you have 20 beacons you need to replace battery every 10 days, if you have 200 then every day. What’s worst beacons don’t report battery status to single location so you have to walk around exposition area every so often and intercept signal to find battery status every day. Not mentioning cost of the beacon which is between 20 to 30 USD each.

The bottom line is that good old piece of paper with number works quite well.

How audio guide web app should be used ?

Our tourist (let’s Jack) is about to use audio guide web app for a first time, this app is going to be used only once and Jack wants to use it now. The point here is to minimise learning curve.

The easiest thing to do is make web app to work exactly this same as existing physical device.

So how physical device work – user enter 3 digit number based on the information presented in exhibition. By choosing this mechanism use don’t have to learn any new skills and can start using Guidly straight away.

What is wrong with other audio guide apps ?

First of all you need to put yourself in the shoes of typical tourist. Imagine going to museum and having a choice of renting audio guide device or using your phone for free, many people would go with second option.

So here is first tip – people like to get things for free and they do have smartphones today.

Next on our imaginary tourist (let’s call him Jack) finds that he should install app, well there is nothing wrong about the app but on the other hand why Jack should install app if he is going to use just once ?

As this stage we have Jack who has phone and don’t really want to install one time app, the choice is obvious – a web app.

How it all started ?

Quite simply, when I was traveling in Spain I had to rent audio guide device in every museum I wen to (I don’t speak Spanish at all) surprisingly I found that in many places renting device was more expensive then the museum ticket itself.

Good few month later on I went to New York to one of the biggest and most popular museum there (sorry can’t mention the name) and found that the audio device was not only pricey but had a lot of flaws, first of all it was hard to use it and battery was not lasting for more then 45 minutes. When I went to help desk there was already guy waiting before me in queue asking exactly this same question as me – so how to use it ?! Nice lady told him that actually it’s not easy and secondly you can switch device to more simple mode – simply by entering 3 digits of the location, and that was when the bulb light up for me …