A company called “Node” has come out with a rugged handheld computer and GPS unit intended for location-aware interactive exploration of indoor and outdoor spaces. The Explorer v2 is based on a 400MHz XScale processor, and reportedly supports both embedded Linux and Microsoft Pocket PC.
Along with the rugged handheld Explorer v2 unit, Node sells recharging and data collection Docks and a central management and tracking system called the Engine. The Dock serves as a single point for recharging and collecting visitor information, while the Node Engine provides a central interface for the management of interpretive content and the tracking of visitor behavior, which is “captured automatically” by the Explorer v2, the company says.
The Node Explorer v2 includes full multimedia playback capabilities, including a low-reflection quarter-VGA (320 x 240) color touchscreen display that supports both portrait and landscape viewing modes. The unit includes 3D audio software, and a headphone jack with a waterproof rubber plug. In addition to a GPS receiver, the unit supports a wireless network connection to the Node Engine.
The basic ruggedized unit offers a claimed full day of battery life. The Node is packaged in a rugged, rubber-edged “fully waterproof” case, available in 265 different colors, with space on the back for customer logos or other branding images (see image below).
The Node Explorer, Dock, and Engine work with a suite of Node software that includes:
- An interface to guide visitors through a site with minimal impact
- Pathfinder dynamic map application calls attention to points of interest in real-time
- Soundscape supports 3D audio
- Projector supports layering of images and text onto landscape maps
- Manager software supports real-time management of site data
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) software “personalizes the experience,” Node says, “extending the life of the content”
- Tracker records visitor behavior at the site
- Observer provides “holistic information analysis” of visitor behavior
- Universal Access enables customization for language, age, special interest groups, or visually or hearing-impaired visitors
The company says the elements of its Node system together comprise the first interactive interpretive system designed “to provide experiences to vistors based on who they are, where they are, and what they're looking at.”
In addition to the Node product line, the company also provides interpretive services to the tourism industry. It has published case studies about its work bringing interactive visitor experiences to tourist attractions in and around Bristol, Great Brittain, including the Ashton Court Estate, the Brunel Walk, and the Bristol Harbour Walk.
More details are available on the company's Website.
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