audio guide app in livecode?

Peter M. Brigham, MD pmbrig at
Thu Sep 8 16:38:31 EDT 2011

I was at a museum in the Boston area a while back and they had an interesting solution. You call a number on your phone, and the audio menu invites you to enter a number (posted next to each picture), and then you hear the commentary on that particular picture. Simple, low-tech, doesn't even require a smart phone. Only requires a cellular phone connection, which might be a deal-killer for larger museums with internal rooms that are out of cellular signal range. Still, I thought it was pretty clever.

-- Peter

Peter M. Brigham
pmbrig at

On Sep 8, 2011, at 4:05 PM, Pete wrote:

> It does sound very simple on the face of it, which begs the question of why
> nobody has implemented this much cheaper solution already?  Perhaps museums,
> being very traditional institutions, lag behind technology developments?  As
> I recall, I've always had to pay for this type of guide so perhaps the
> museums make money on them, or perhaps they are just recouping the costs of
> the equipment, who knows.
> I'd think an Android phone (I have one) would be more than capable of doing
> this, as would an iPhone.  Storage might be an issue since Android phones
> tend not have a huge amount of SD storage available, maybe 16megs, but that
> should be room for a lot of mp3 files.
> The interesting thing is to ponder on how to charge for this.  I could see a
> situation where some clever person develops a single app that can deal with
> as many museums as want to subscribe to the service.  Maybe the app is free
> but you pay to download guides to different museums with the payment being
> split between the museum and the application developer?  No need for wifi,
> the phone data service can take care of the download.  No doubt Apple would
> throw up on including the ability to buy the guide from within the
> application though.
> I think you may be on to a very nice business opportunity here Peter!
> Pete
> Molly's Revenge <>
> On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM, Peter Alcibiades <
> palcibiades-first at> wrote:
>> The way the audioguide business works is, you have a special museum type
>> handset.  This costs hundreds of dollars to buy, but what it consists of is
>> a keypad, tiny lcd screen and a phone type speaker.
>> The user goes around the museum and sees large numbers attached to exhibits
>> or freestanding.  He/she then hits the number, and the track plays.
>> Yes, that is really it.  And yes, they cost hundreds each.  They come with
>> a
>> charging rack typically so you can plug them in to recharge overnight, and
>> they have a 512Mb compact flash card.
>> Then you get software with them.  The way this works is very nice.  The
>> software is registered to the individual machine you first install it on.
>> Want another machine?  Pay.  This software uploads the tracks you have
>> recorded into the handsets.  What you do is load one handset, the master,
>> and then this propogates to all the others.  The makers of this software do
>> not seem to have thought of virtual machines, because if you install on one
>> of these, you can put it all over the place in as many machines as you
>> like.
>> Well, there you go.
>> My first inclination, when confronted with this, was to say what is wrong
>> with cheap mp3 players?  Well, this is where it gets interesting.  You get
>> grants for this stuff as a charity and museum.  The grants are based on the
>> going rate, which is hugely expensive, because no-one does this stuff
>> themselves, they get consultants in  to do it all for them.  A museum,
>> which
>> will be state run of course in Europe, can easily spend $100k or so to have
>> 50+ handsets and the right tracks recorded by professional actors.
>> Into this surreal world comes Android.  The thing about android phones is
>> they can run apps.  It looks to your usual, what is the word, adventurous
>> user?  asi if anyone with half a brain could make an app that as J says,
>> only needs to play a track when a number is pressed.  Why, I am asking
>> myself, should this cost more than about £200 including the mobile
>> non-profit Livecode purchase?  Some cheap machine they have lying around,
>> and there's a usb port to host it on.  What more do you need?
>> So, I'm on the point of saying to the museum, buy me the livecode android
>> version, and away we go.  Glad to hear everyone saying in tones very like
>> my
>> own, that this is not rocket science, more like an afternoon.  But given
>> pause by the fact that I have never knowingly seen an android phone, so
>> maybe developing an app for one from scratch is a little courageous?
>> If any of you guys have a spare afternoon, I think the museum market is
>> quite interesting.
>> Sometime if there is a long rainy afternoon, I'll tell you about the even
>> more surreal world of museum databases and catalogue software....  Now if
>> you think audioguides are a turnup for the books, wait till you hear about
>> catalogs....
>> Peter
>> --
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