Building multilingual and accessible museum experiences in the blink of an eye

Building multilingual and accessible museum experiences in the blink of an eye.

Few cultural places, as well as historical sites, lend themselves to audio experiences. If you don’t tell stories there, where will you? 

Historical sites also stand out from other institutions regarding the breadth of visitors they welcome; schools, history lovers, families searching for an accessible and relatable cultural experience, locals trying to make sense of their heritage, and tourists, many tourists! 

They come from all over the world because their history has been affected by a historical event or simply because they want to learn more about a historical chapter they find intriguing.

With such a diverse audience, it’s hard to imagine how historical sites manage to provide every type of audience with a personalized, immersive experience while renewing those experiences often — we all know audio guides are excellent but can age very quickly. 

At the Waterloo Memorial Museum, we have found a way to deliver high-quality immersive experiences for multilingual communities. 

Our team doesn’t need to be fluent in any of those nine languages or hire voiceover actors to make the audio come to life. Moreover, we update all of the content of those audio clips in the blink of an eye with no extra cost or development. 

That is all thanks to the GEED Translation Engine & Natural Voice Generation modules provided by Livdeo.

The visit sessions are augmented with a 4D video experience. The visitors are immersed in the Waterloo battle through dedicated 3D lenses and spatialized audio. Through their own smartphones, the visitors may choose to listen to the narrative audio of their choice synchronized with the video projection.

The goal was to allow all visitors to listen in their language to the audio tracks played through the speakers. 

The multilingual audio synchronization is available all along the visit session. We wanted to provide a seamless engagement with exhibited objects, video projections, and displays from the same visit app.

The former solution integrated video/audio synchronization through limited infrared technology. The new DEEALOG Sync Engine solution provides video/audio lip synchronization right from the web app, with no physical area limitations. Moreover, it seamlessly integrates with our Video Show Control software (Wings VIOSO®) and with existing BrightSign® video players. 

The Waterloo Memorial

The Waterloo Memorial commemorates the great battle in 1815 and saw Napoleon’s French army defeated by a British-led coalition under the Duke of Wellington’s command and including troops from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Prussia. Located just 20 kilometers south of Brussels in Braine-l’Alleud, near the city of Waterloo, the site welcomes 170,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

The Memorial includes a 2000 square meters exhibition with immersive decors, a 4D-film, and a myriad of multimedia content. 

The site also boasts The Lion’s Mound (a hill overlooking the battlefield), The Hougoumont Farm harboring an interactive exhibit about the violent confrontations that once unfolded there, and, last but not least, the Panorama. This circular building hosted a remarkable masterpiece — a 12 meters-high and 110 meters circular-long painting by Louis-Jules Dumoulin dating from 1912.

Multilingual content in the blink of an eye

At the beginning of 2020, we wanted to modernize our visitors’ experiences. 

We already had traditional audio guides on loan which offered content in four different languages (French, English, Dutch, and German).

 We had several goals :

  • Provide a web-app for our visitors and let them explore the Memorial in a simple way.
  • Provide visitors with a more natural way to engage with the exhibited objects. The camera recognition approach seemed to be a great bet.
  • Add five more languages (Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese).
  • Provide agility to our teams on the content update workflows. The multilingual aspect of the narrative material is a real concern in terms of agility for our teams. 
  • Find a solution that will speed up the process of creating five extra languages for our 420+ object descriptions while limiting the financial impact.

Livdeo’s web-app solution, GEED, provides a Translation Engine and Natural Voice Generation module that are much more qualitative than the known web-based solutions. We can create and manage translations for all the descriptions and narrative content, right from within the dedicated back-office. 

In addition, the Natural Voice Generation module instantaneously produces the audio content from the texts. The voices sound so natural, and the accents are so on point that it is impossible to tell that they are synthetic voices. 

Whenever we want to change an audio material, we edit the original text in the back-office, and everything gets automatically updated across all languages. Over 55 000 words were translated and turned into audio content thanks to GEED.

We wanted to change visitors’ interaction habits and easily engage from their smartphone’s camera through the web-app. For our team, managing the content avoids the management of codes printed and integrated into wall labels. 

The image recognition greatly simplifies the issues we may encounter with intercalated works’ —no more shifting of numbers. 

The solution provided by Livdeo allowed us however to maintain all the existing digit codes used by the former audioguide solution. Visitors engage with the points of interest by using the dial pad or the camera, right from the web app.