Robot tours

Robot tours

We have been working on an exciting new project to give hospital patients the chance to visit the Museum – without leaving their bed.

Over the past three months we have been collaborating with Denis Roche at roschprojects to provide guided tours with a telepresence robot for dementia patients at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. Using an ipad from their hospital bed, patients are guided around the Museum by the robot and a member of staff.

The robot comprises a slender support rising from a low, wheeled base to hold up a tablet-size screen that displays the user’s face. The ipad livestreams a video of a staff member conducting a tour around the Museum, with the robot controlled by the patient. Microphones and speakers allow the patient to interact with the tour guide and ask questions throughout the duration, and a handling collection is used to give patients a close-up view of some of the objects on display.

Through this technology it’s now possible for patients with physical disabilities to access the Museum and see the Collection as a visitor to the Museum would experience it. By controlling the robot which can move from side to side, or extend in height, the patient can explore the Collection or move closer to objects that interest them. Vincent Wright, our Visitor Engagement Manager, has been exploring ways of increasing access to the Museum’s Collection. Talking about the project he said: “It is incredible to offer the opportunity to engage with the Museum and its Collection to people who would perhaps otherwise be unable to visit. Technology is allowing us to remove barriers and provide meaningful, tailored talks for patients.”

So far we have conducted three tours using this innovation and we’re excited to see where this might lead and how it could radically change the lives of people with severe disabilities.