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NGX Robotics Residency

How can we use robots to improve the visitor experience at the Gallery?

Engineering students at King's College London looked at how we could expand visitor services at the Gallery by using the NAO robot, manufactured by SoftBank Robotics. 

The goal was to see how we could support our existing (human!) visitor services, not replace them. 

We looked at the possibilities for NAO robots to personalise a visitor's experience by:

  • responding in a visitor's native language
  • offering custom tours and information to visitors who detail their interests when buying a ticket or registering before a visit
  • recognising members who visit often and suggesting to them new experiences
  • identifying a visitor's emotional state & helping them get support
  • letting visitors interact with a touchscreen and providing verbal support in the language of their choice
  • assisting in social distancing, during the COVID-19 pandemic

The robots are not individual units; they are networked with each other and with the Gallery's existing (CRM) systems for visitor experience, security and circulation management. This means that the robots can communicate with each other to identify busy rooms near popular paintings, and can therefore advise visitors when, where and how to see popular paintings.

Instead of testing these robots on-site, we worked with virtual robots in virtual rooms that replicated the conditions of the Gallery, due to the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this residency, the students received mentoring from both cultural and technical professionals at NGX. 

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What is National Gallery X? 

National Gallery X (NGX) is a partnership between the National Gallery and King's College London. It brings together King's College London’s research with the art and audiences of the Gallery to create the new museum experiences technology could make possible in the future.

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