It shouldn’t take much imagination to see the enormous potential afforded by this prototype project coming out of Germany via Japan – Enkin.
Built on Google’s Android mobile platform (for which, it should be pointed out, no commercially available devices exist), Enkin looks amazing, even as a prototype. David Bearman has written recently about the notion of the ‘inside out museum’ where collections can be ‘digitally repatriated’ and connected up in both space and time (previously discussed). Enkin is one glimpse into that potential future.
Of course it is going to take a long time for mainstream audiences to engage with augmented reality heritage content and there are many barriers to be overcome. Interface is perhaps the easiest to solve – already mobile carriers are finding that iPhone users make considerably more use of mobile data than other phone users (see Jason Grigsby great presentation on this and other mobile usability issues over at Slideshare – especially slide #15). More problematic are carrier issues around the charging of data, and even more problematic are the philosophical issues that museums need to deal with in order to release their collections and other content in these new ways.