The CRMI is embarking on an exciting, innovative project that will change the way museums present their collections and interact with their audiences. We are coordinating the development of the "Muse-Cam" (short for Museum Camera), which takes the digital revolution to the next step.
The Muse-Cam will allow Web visitors to fully interact with museum objects anywhere in the world. Visitors will see a museum object in real time, use their keyboard and mouse to manipulate a special video camera which allows them to explore the object from virtually any angle or even inside the object, and actually operate objects with a click of the mouse.
The demonstration page youíre about to enter is intended to give a flavor of what the Muse-Cam can do once itís functional. You will see a real-time video image of an electromechanical telephone ringer device, circa 1930, which was used by the phone company to transmit ring tones and busy signals to telephones.
Press the "Traffic Light" button to start the machine (it will run for 10 seconds); look carefully at the spinning commutator on the left and the moving worm gear and cams on the right. You may zoom, pan, and tilt for better views. The camera weíre using is a videoconferencing camera with limited presets; the operational Muse-Cam will allow you to explore the object from unlimited angles with a click of the mouse.
Click "Journey via Exhibit Schematic" to see a diagram of the device. Click on an area of the diagram to view that spot on the object.
It may be somewhat difficult to comprehend the motion of the commutator and gears at present. We will soon include a live audio feed that will allow you to hear the sound of the motor and, we hope eventually, the ring and busy tones the Western Electric device generates. We also hope to improve the action of the camera, as its functions are not as smooth as we like (after all, it was designed for videoconferencing, not online museum exhibitions!).