In increasingly hyper-connected societies, where individuals rely on short and fast online communications to consume information, museums face a significant survival challenge. Collaborations between scientists and museums suggest that the use of the technological framework known as Internet of Things (IoT) will be a key player in tackling this challenge. IoT can be used to gather and analyse visitor generated data, leading to data-driven insights that can fuel novel, adaptive and engaging museum experiences. We used an IoT implementation-a sensor network installed in the physical space of a museum-to look at how single visitors chose to enter and spend time in the different rooms of a curated exhibition. We collected a sparse, non-overlapping dataset of individual visits. Using various statistical analyses, we found that visitor attention span was very short. People visited five out of twenty rooms on average, and spent a median of two minutes in each room. However, the patterns of choice and time spent in rooms were not random. Indeed, they could be described in terms of a set of linearly separable visit patterns we obtained using principal component analysis. These results are encouraging for future interdisciplinary research that seeks to leverage IoT to get numerical proxies for people attention inside the museum, and use this information to fuel the next generation of possible museum interactions. Such interactions will based on rich, non-intrusive and diverse IoT driven conversation, dynamically tailored to visitors.
Keywords: IoT; mobile sensors; museum behaviour prediction; museum visitor analysis; space sensing; visitor attention; visitor engagement.