The Augmented Telegrapher: Creating and capturing the value of an Integrated approach to immersive experiences in a small museum context.

Lead Research Organisation: Falmouth University
Department Name: Games Academy


Based on the work carried out for the 'Augmented Telegrapher: Mixed Reality in a Museum Context' project, we propose to extend our collaboration with both Porthcurno Telegraph Museum [PTM] and Cornwall Museum Partnership [CMP] to help tackle some of the Museum's key economic and interpretational areas of challenge. It became apparent through our previous collaboration that our experimental and investigative work could be leveraged, if commercially optimised, to help the museum to bring in footfall during the low season months as well as provide an additional highly marketable attraction for the public in the high season months. Part of this work is therefore also to provide means using the latest Augmented and Mixed Reality technology to help audiences, and particularly the under-engaged 16-30 age group, to engage enjoyably and meaningfully with the importance of the location and the collections within the museum. Our aim then is to attract, surprise and delight audiences with the availability of creative and innovative uses of immersive technology that will bring to life a unique location steeped in telecommunications heritage. To aid in the process of attracting visitors and in the development of a new income stream we will use a range of existing assets and designs to create a commercial, group-based 'Escape Room' type offering that can be booked across the winter months to bring in a new income stream. In close collaboration with our partners, existing digital assets will be optimised and polished, and made ready to be used to develop an online platform designed to better attract the interest of the under-engaged market. These assets will also be used to integrate Mixed Reality methods with the permanent collection with the aim of connecting past experiences of the impact of communications on daily lives with those experienced in our internet age. These additions provide therefore the basis for new income streams and business model for the Museum, helping to tackle some of its economic, thematic and cultural challenges.

Planned Impact

This follow-on project proposal will provide Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (PTM) with the basis for a new business model that will generate new income streams and reach under-engaged audiences. If the project is selected for funding, these are the two major areas where impact will occur. Should this project not be funded there would be a negative impact on: the museum and by extension other small rural museums who could make use of the format; the surrounding area that benefits from visitor footfall; and, in a wider sense, on the Cornish economy. However, should the project be funded then we will be able to polish & optimise the assets and designs that were prototyped within the previous project in pursuit of our aim to generate commercial grade mixed reality-based content that will excite more footfall and engagement at the museum. More specifically, the work will help to widen the appeal of the museum, enabling it to attract and communicate more effectively with under-engaged demographics - specifically the 16-30s. The AR format of the content will provide the new income stream and will also specifically target that age group and is designed to create impact with this demographic.

The 3 elements of the project combine to help the museum to deploy its new business strategy. Each element is designed to help create impact in our two target areas (footfall and engagement). Some of the content (Element 2) that we will develop will be used to provide prospective audiences with the means to engage with the museum's collection prior to their visit. Placing some of the content online has an economic and an interpretational function; helping to create impact in relation to the financial and cultural missions of both CMP and PTM. From a financial perspective, the online provision will entice audiences with glimpses of new innovative additions to the collection and, crucially, inform prospective audiences of the exciting 'escape room' group experience which they will be able to book in advance online. The online platform will also be useful as a means of marketing the availability and appeal of the 'escape room' activities, thereby helping to maximise bookings in support of a new income stream.

Direct and immediate impact will be generated by the group-based 'Escape Room' experience (Element 1) that visitors will be asked to book in advance and pay for. These will be available as 60-minute slots for 4-6 players, and they will be available from September 2019. This will generate both an extra valuable income stream and also engage those who may otherwise overlook the historical, cultural and technological interest of the location and the collection, with impact demonstrated in both areas. Slightly longer term and designed to enhance the attraction of the Museum to holiday-makers, is the digital overlay work (Element 3) that will be integrated into the main collection. Available from August 2019, this will help PTM and its surrounding businesses to compete with other attractions in the area including the beach.

From a cultural impact perspective, the Augmented experiences that we will develop will mobilise new technologies to help audiences to understand the historical and cultural significance of the old technology that is housed in the museum. Further, we aim to have cultural impact by framing contemporary debates about our current use social media through engagement with the telegraphy as the social media of the past. This project will provide PTM with additional income streams by mobilising the immersive content that we prototyped to the more focused task of generating increased audience capture and engagement. This is underpinned by the efforts to deploy immersive content to connect the history of telecommunications with contemporary experience & expectations. We aim to increase footfall by 30% and generate c10k in the first season of the AR-based Escape Room offering.


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Description From a prototype developed during the initial project, we have developed an 'escape room' augmented experience that blends together virtual and real objects in a narrative context for small groups to play at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum which is located in a rural region of Cornwall. We discovered that haptics were the best way, in terms of design, to overcome the issues arising from the hololens' tricky interface and which presented a barrier to entry. We are in the final stages of user-testing the Augmented Reality experience on location at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum and it will available to use in April 2020. Across the project, we have developed a method of co-design that provides a workflow blueprint for collaboration between developers and museum staff.
Exploitation Route 1. Museums and curators benefit from our workflow blueprint to inform collaboration methods.
2. Museums, curators and audiences benefit from the development of a novel immersive and game-based mode of engagement tailored to a museum context.
3. Academics in humanities, design practice and applied computing will from our research into a) developing design solutions to technical issues, and b)from our evaluation of not only user feedback but also the implications of mixed reality for our understanding of historical time and space.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description 1. Cultural impacts: additional mode for engaging hard to reach audiences with the museum's collection; enriched understanding of the uses of immersive technologies in museum contexts; workflow method for collaboration between developers and museums/heritage. 2. Economic impact: Additional offer within the museum
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

Description LEP focus on supporting Immersive to support Tourist/heritage sector
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The project alerted the Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and IoS Local Enterprise Partnership to the cultural and economic value of new immersive technologies. The LEP & CC have now included that in the regional Industrial Strategy and we have become partners on a further successful bid submitted to the Coastal Community Fund that develops the work of the Augmented Telegrapher project across five museums (stated April 2019). The Augmented Telegrapher generated and developed skills both in terms of design and technology for the collaborators, helping to equip regional museums, both large and small, to help take advantage of emergent opportunities within the digital economy in a rural area. CMP gained more knowledge about how to support the Museums in the partnership to identify markets, develop new business models and to develop digital skills. In addition, the project has created an eco-system and workflow that has enabled greater and more successful co-design across disciplines and between the heritage sector and design research. This, in turn, is designed to increase footfall for the participating museums creating economic impact for those museums and surrounding businesses.
Description coastal communities fund
Amount £700,000 (GBP)
Funding ID CCFR5078 
Organisation Government of the UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2021
Description Porthcurno Telegraph Museum 
Organisation Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We worked with the Museum team to craft an Escape Room experience that helps to tell the story of the activities undertaken at the Telegraph Station during WW2 with the aim of creating an experience appealing to harder to reach audiences and providing a model that can help drive additional footfall in the down season.
Collaborator Contribution The museum staff bought historical and archival knowledge vital to the task of making a relevant augmented experiences for visitors. We learned about museums' priorities and their audiences. The collaboration enabled by this funding has formed the basis of an ongoing relationship between CMP, the Museum and the Falmouth research team. We collectively applied with the Cornwall and IOS LEP for funding to continue our work to bring immersive design and technology with this and other Cornish museums.
Impact This project is multidisciplinary: Museum Studies; Interaction and Interface Design; Computing; Digital Art (3D modelling in an Augmented context); storytelling/digital narrative. Research outputs: Conference presentations 'Towards a Blueprint for Mixed Reality Experiences in GLAM Spaces: The Augmented Telegrapher at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum', 32nd BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference, 2-6 July, 2018, Belfast, NI.; ITiCSE 2018, July 02 - 04, 2018, Larnaca, Cyprus; 'Weaving Time and Space: Augmented Reality in a Museum Context', Time, Space and Culture conference, London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Oxford University, Feb 15-16, 2020. 2 Research papers based on our collaborative practical work. 1. Scott, Michael James, Parker, Alcwyn, Powley, Edward, Saunders, Rob, Lee, Jenny, Herring, Phoebe, Brown, Douglas and Krzywinska, Tanya (2018) Towards an Interaction Blueprint for Mixed Reality Experiences in GLAM Spaces: The Augmented Telegrapher at Porthcurno Museum. In: Proceedings of the 32nd BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference, 2-6 July, 2018, Belfast, NI. 2. Parker, Alcwyn and Scott, Michael (2018) Crafting Engaging Programming Experiences for Young People in GLAM Spaces: The iOi-Sphere. In: ITiCSE 2018, July 02 - 04, 2018, Larnaca, Cyprus. We also have one paper currently in review, 'From Immersion's Bleeding Edge to the AugmentedTelegrapher: A Method for Creating Mixed Reality Games for Museum and Heritage Context' with the Journal of Computing and Cultural Heritage. Expected acceptance notice is late January 2020. Cultura outcomes and impact: - Creation of a foundational model and the development of a tried and tested workflow pattern that helps immersive developers/researchers and museums to work together that accommodates different stakeholders, priorities and those between both practice and language. - Exemplar demonstration to small museums of the possibilities of using immersive technologies as interpretational and engagement tools. - Immersive technology and design exemplars for those working within and with the Heritage sector. - Using emergent technology to facilitate engagement with harder to reach teenage audiences with heritage. - Extension of the Museum's offer - a highly marketable addition - and increased interpretational capability. - Rural museum utilises new 'bleeding edge' technology that is not yet domestically accessible in keeping with the tech innovation theme of the location. Knowledge Exchange: By virtue of the collaboration the Museum has built new technology into its future plans and we have won funding to do this Museum staff engage with new technologies, their use and management in the museum context, extending skills and knowledge. Future Economic impact: once the Escape Room experience has been fully tested polished and implemented on-site; subsequent work using beacon technology will help to attract visitors from the surrounding area.
Start Year 2017
Description Demonstration of Special Interest Group (Porthmeor Art Studios) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 150 people attend Porthmeor Studios as a launch for the South West Creative Technology network funded digital residencies, organised by Falmouth University. Visitor received a talk about the Augmented Telegrapher project and they had a hand-on demonstration of the prototype that we had built. Those undertaking to 'having a go' at the haptics and hololens-based experience we had developed expressed in many cases delight with their experience. Many were completely new to the technology and many traditional artists were among the attendees, who found the capabilities of augmented in this format surprising and exciting '.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Isles of Scilly Symposium 7-10 May 2019. Part of the Creative Scilly Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 50 people from the Isles of Scilly arts culture and heritage community as well as the IoS tourist board members attend this symposium where we presented our research and demonstrated our experimental design. This symposium is an exploration of the arts, culture and heritage in a rural or remote context. Through a series of seminars, panel discussions and studio tours, creative practitioners and organisations are invited to consider issues around strategic & professional development, best practice and partnership working for island and mainland-based creatives. This symposium is delivered by the partnership of Cultivator, Creative Islands and the University of Plymouth. The demo and talk generated a great deal of interest from participants who were eager to understand how immersive technologies and design could be used to excite visitors and extend the tourist experience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Opportunities in Immersive Technology, Knowledge Exchange event. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Around 90 people attended this event organised by Innovate UK's The Knowledge Transfer Network on 15/03/2019. The event was designed to support immersive and digital companies and for them to learn more about the Innovate UK 'family' and regional organisations that have opportunities for supporting local and regional businesses. Regional Universities presented their work alongside regional businesses working in the immersion space. We presented a paper on our work, outlining its innovations and how we'd overcome technical issues with design solutions. In addition, we demoed a few of the haptic-HoloLens puzzles. The haptic interface we had developed to overcome the HoloLens clumsy and hard-to-use interface was what attracted the most interest from delegates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019