The CIMAD project is a collaboration between institutes from Italy (Bologna, Milan, Ducati, IBC) and the United Kingdom (Canterbury). An ambitious goal has been put forward: the implementation of a framework for “smart” cultural heritage environments. These environments will support distributed and mobile on-site applications, from data capture to public dissemination.
A Smart Environment is any confined area of cultural interest where there are means enabling IT devices to detect the occupants context, so that contextual information can be used to support and enhance their abilities in executing application specific actions. These means may be sensor systems embedded in the environment itself, sensors integrated in the platform or both. The areas of cultural interest include museums, temples, archaeological site, historical city centers, but also industrial heritage sites, historical cemeteries… ).
The smart environments generated with the proposed framework will include networked context-aware mobile devices, repositories, context-servers and stationary clients. Existing context-aware mobile devices operating at the data capture end, such us PDAs able to collect contextualized field notes will be made inter-operable with other recording systems and repositories. These repositories will provide contextualized and conformable digital data to an authoring module specifically devised to develop context-related content tailored to the mobile clients operating at the dissemination end within the smart environment (on-site access to CH). The mobile clients will access the repositories according to a context-aware navigation and interaction policy implemented by the proposed framework and specified by the curator or by the target institution authority.
The proposed framework will include three modules
1. The Application Builder is a suite of tools for generating the desired application, customized at run time according to the current context of use – namely, the constraints and capabilities of the specific delivery device, the user characteristics, and current location. The Application Builder conception and implementation will capitalize on the partners’experience in developing MUSEXP, the interface definition framework for WHYRE and on existing tools for web-based application generators, developed by the partner POLIMI (largely within in a previous EC funded project “UWA-Ubiquitous Web Applications”).
2. The Context Management Infrastructure is a distributed and cooperative infrastructure intended to manage all contextual information within the smart environment, and to provide appropriate contextual information to all of its nodes. It is based on the existing MobiComp context-aware infrastructure, and on the experience gained by the partners with WHYRE, during its development, usability analysis and user testing
3. Authoring procedures for context-aware mobile applications: this module should provide the authoring guidelines and the procedures to generate the desired contents in a format suitable for the mobile platform. Digital resources will originate from contents in standard formats in EPOCH open repositories. In this scenario the proposed module intends to demonstrate how to import and adapt to smart mobile environments conformable EPOCH CH data to be delivered on-site, with the goal of maximizing engagement and dissemination.
In the last period of the CIMAD project, two showcases will be set up, one for each “end” of the chain of practice in archaeology and museums: data capture and dissemination. The context-aware platforms will be chosen according to the constraints and user needs of the selected cultural heritage site. The showcase software will be developed using the same “application builder” and have similar capabilities, but will employ different policies and different contents.