2010 Horizon.museum Short List

2010 Horizon.museum Report Short List pdf

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Critical Challenges

Key Trends


Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less
Mobiles as a category have proven more interesting and more capable with each passing year, and continue to be a technology with new surprises. The mobile market today has nearly 4 billion subscribers, more than two-thirds of whom live in developing countries. Well over a billion new phones are produced each year, a flow of continuous enhancement and innovation that is unprecedented in modern times. The fastest-growing sales segment belongs to smart phones — which means that a massive and increasing number of people all over the world now own and use a computer that fits in their hand and is able to connect to the network wirelessly from virtually anywhere. Thousands of applications designed to support a wide range of tasks on virtually any smart-phone operating system are readily available, with more entering the market all the time. These mobile computing tools have become accepted aids in daily life, giving us on-the-go access to tools for business, video/audio capture and basic editing, sensing and measurement, geolocation, social networking, personal productivity, references, just-in-time learning — indeed, virtually anything that can be done on a desktop. Because the threshold for development is lower for today’s mobiles, it has become easier and less expensive for museums to develop and serve better content, more quickly.

Relevance for Museum Education and Interpretation

  • Increasingly, museums are taking advantage of the devices people carry, reducing overhead costs for services like audio tours.
  • Mobiles allow museums to more directly target niche audiences such as teenagers and parents with young children.
  • The applications for mobile in museum education are largely untapped, but could be profound. These devices take pictures; allow visitors to view images, video, sound, access the web; check their email; geo-locate, tag, and increasingly even recognize and recreate objects.


For Further Reading

Mobile for Museums
(Sharon Leon, Director of Public Projects at Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, 2010.) This article assesses the current state of mobiles for the museum field.

Teaching with Technology Face-Off: iPhones vs. PCs
(Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 February 2009.) One professor found that mobile devices increased student engagement with learning materials in his class.