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Swiss Academy of Art and Design Together with Ubisense Integrate Precise Real-time Location and Biometric Sensors to Research art Museum Experience


In a unique setting at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Switzerland, the Basel Academy of Art and Design has implemented a solution which monitors museum visitors as they move through the exhibition, providing new insights into emotional and cognitive reactions to art objects
Dortmund, St. Gallen, July 22 2009 - eMotion is a multi-faceted research and media art platform combining the disciplines of art sociology and art psychology, art administration and art pedagogy, curatorial practice and museum research, media art and performance.

“The museum experience is analysed from a psycho-geographical perspective, encompassing the emotional, cognitive and physical effects upon viewer reception, and how those factors influence the implicit decision making processes of visitors”, explains Dr. Martin Troendle, the eMotion project initiator and manager.” Methodologically, the project sets in motion a trans-disciplinary platform integrating both scientific and artistic modes of ‘knowing’ and strategies of dissemination, directly within the museum”.

Upon registration at the art museum entrance, visitors receive a special glove which contains biometric sensors and a Ubisense active location tag. The visitors respond to a series of questions regarding their familiarity with and expectations of the exhibition as well as biometrically relevant data such as whether they smoke cigarettes or have just drunk a cup of coffee. The art exhibition is equipped with 20 Ubisense sensors which record the positions of the visitors as they move among the exhibits to an accuracy of 15cm and at a sampling frequency up to 4 times per second. In parallel, the heart rate and electrical conductivity of the visitor’s skin is measured and transmitted to a central server which records and analyses the results. At the end of the exhibition, the visitor can view the results on a table top plasma screen. Statistical data on the most viewed objects and the aggregate motion patterns of visitors is presented audio-visually in a number of innovative ways.

“We are delighted with the performance of the Ubisense tracking system”, declares Roland Waespe, director of the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen. “Our museum building presents a number of architectural challenges for radio based systems and we have been impressed with the reliability and precision of the system in this environment.”

eMotion is a research project at the Institute for Research in Art and Design, University of Applied Science Northwestern Switzerland, Academy of Art and Design and has been generously supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Ubisense. “We are very grateful to Ubisense both for the financial support and the dedication of the professional team which helped this project become such a success”, adds Troendle.

More information can be found at

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