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American Museum of Natural History Launches 'Indoors GPS' App

By DNAinfo Staff on August 5, 2010 7:04am

By Jennifer Glickel

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE —  The American Museum of Natural History may put the world’s past on display, but a new iPhone navigation applicaton that helps guide visitors through exhibits by means of an “indoor GPS” system is anything but ancient history.

Explorer, the AMNH’s new interactive application for the iPhone and iPod Touch, not only serves as a navigational guide through the museum’s 570,000 square feet of exhibition space, but also provides patrons with pre-programmed, in-depth tours through the museum’s halls.

“I think what’s really fantastic to note about what we’ve done is that we’ve really cracked the code on bringing location awareness indoors and then linking it to the visitor’s investigation of our rich content,” said Linda Perry-Lube, Senior VP and Chief Digital Officer at the AMNH.

In addition to the tours, the iPhone app includes a scavenger hunt through the museum’s fossil halls and digital exhibits. It also has the capability for people to use it offsite from the museum and create personalized tours on the spot or in advance of their museum visit.

“The great thing about the iPhone platform is that it allowed us to take it out of the building and allow people who can’t visit the museum virtual access to our exhibits, and also really lets people customize their experience at the museum by giving them the ability to create their own tours for getting through the halls,” Perry-Lube said.

Not only does the app direct users through the AMNH’s exhibits, but also guides them to the nearest restroom, café, or exit. The app uses the museum’s 300 WiFi hotspots to triangulate the visitor’s location and also guides him or her to the next spot of interest.

Explorer, which was officially released on July 29, has been one of Apple’s top six featured applications this week and on Tuesday was the company’s number one featured app.

“I think Apple really recognized and loved that it was technically advanced and so rich in content,” Perry-Lube told DNAinfo.

For those museum visitors who don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch, AMNH has about 360 devices that patrons can use to navigate around the museum. Perry-Lube said response has been overwhelmingly positive since the application’s release last week.

The free application can be downloaded through iTunes or at Apple’s online iPhone app store.