Digital Humanities: Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

Period of Performance

10/1/2009 - 6/30/2011

Funding Totals

$49,384.00 (approved)
$49,384.00 (awarded)

(AI)2 Artificially Intelligent Artifact Interpreter

FAIN: HD-50797-09

Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH 44106-1703)
Edward J. Pershey (Project Director: April 2009 to February 2012)

The development and evaluation of a prototype of a virtual museum docent employing Radio Frequency Identification tags and artificial intelligence for use in interactive history museum exhibitions.

This project prototypes a virtual history museum docent to interpret historical artifacts to a general audience. Engaging visitors in exploring original artifacts is the key to successfully connecting them to human history. Traditionally artifacts have been presented in two ways. Either artifacts are displayed with graphic or media labels, providing a one-way avenue of information to the visitor, or a live docent interacts one-on-one with the visitor to explain and demonstrate the artifact. Using 21st-century computer technology, including RFID tags and AI software, this project will create an Artificially Intelligent Artifact Interpreter that will respond to visitors' handling of artifacts, prompting the visitor with questions and offering the visitor information about the physicality of the artifact itself and its broader historical interpretation. This prototype is intended to be used in an introductory area at the museum to engage visitors or as the introduction to a larger exhibit.