Technology

Virtual museum gallery's new AI-powered tour guide can answer visitors' questions


SINGAPORE – The Asian Civilisations Museum now has a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) as a tour guide.

Named Allie, the digital assistant leads users of the museum’s website through a virtual replica of its Jewellery gallery.

Allie and the digital gallery is one of two projects jointly unveiled by the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Monday (Nov 22).

The project is a collaboration between the museum, AI-solutions developer Taiger and spatial data company Matterport3D.

Users can enter the virtual gallery for free through the museum’s website.

Once inside, they can access Allie’s services, which include an option to be guided through the gallery.

But users can also choose to explore the gallery freely by moving between the exhibits, which are displayed in the same position and location as their physical counterparts.

Some artefacts in the gallery also have white circles next to them which, when clicked, activate a pop-up text box with information about the exhibits.

Visitors can also ask Allie questions about the gallery or the museum, such as “What is the oldest object in the gallery?”

Taiger’s head of government business Jaron Ong told The Straits Times that there are talks to expand the project to other galleries in the museum.

“Apart from that, we are also looking at the Malay Heritage Centre as the next site to work on,” he added.


Some artefacts in the gallery also have white circles next to them which, when clicked, activate a pop-up text box with information about the exhibits. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM NHB.GOV.SG

The other project announced on Monday is a facial recognition and data analytics system that tracks physical visitors through cameras.

Developed by tech firm Trakomatic, it is currently being trialled at the museum.

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While the data collected is automatically anonymised, visitors can also register a profile with the system to receive personalised recommendations of exhibits they may be interested in.

These are based on data analysed by the system, such as the time spent by a guest at exhibits during previous visits.

How the visitor will receive the recommendations – whether as an SMS or other types of text messages – is still being decided, said Trakomatic’s co-founder and chief operation officer Shaun Kwan.

Mr Kwan also said the system will help the museum in making decisions, such as improving the layout of the galleries for better visitor traffic to certain exhibits.

The projects are a result of NHB’s collaboration with IMDA to digitalise Singapore’s heritage sector, via the authority’s crowdsourcing initiative called Open Innovation Platform.

Other ongoing projects involving NHB include the development of a digital concierge solution with local start-upVouch SG, and a virtual tourism solution with tech firm Revez Motion.

NHB’s chief information officer Mohamed Hardi said the digitalisation efforts are not intended to replace physical museum visits.

Instead, these are meant to entice guests to make return visits and enhance the physical viewing experience.

“We still want people to come and visit,” he said.





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