TechTags Recognized for Extraordinary Accomplishment in Visitor Experience
San Jose, Calif., October 30, 2006 - The Tech Museum of Innovation, one of the nation's premier science and technology museums, has been honored by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) with the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience. The award was presented to The Tech last night at a ceremony during ASTC's annual conference called, "Appropriate Growth: Sustaining Institutional Advancement," held this year at the Louisville Science Center in Louisville, KY. Accepting on behalf of The Tech was Susan Wageman, Senior Director, Evaluation, Planning & Research.
The Tech Museum of Innovation was singled out for its unique TechTag program that allows visitors to personalize their museum experience during and following their visit. TechTags are "personalizing and extending" the museum experience through the use of a small tag that can be worn around the wrist. Simply by using their tag to activate an exhibit, the TechTag automatically creates a personalized webpage with photographs and activity results that visitors can access online after they leave the Museum. The tags are bringing The Tech closer to realizing its vision of a Smart Museum, a museum that interacts with its visitors and remembers them after they leave.
"The Tech Museum's TechTag program truly embodies what the ASTC jury was looking for when considering who to recognize with a Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience this year -- creativity, impact, collaboration, and the potential to serve as a model for the field," said Bonnie VanDorn, ASTC's Executive Director. "Many ASTC members got a first-hand preview of the TechTag program when The Tech hosted our Annual Conference in 2004, and it's great to see how it has continued to grow, evolve, and enhance the visitor experience since then."
"The TechTag program is an exciting example of Silicon Valley innovation in action, and of how The Tech is partnering with leading organizations in the region to develop and apply innovation in ways that can dramatically enrich the visitor experience," said Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum of Innovation. "While we developed the technology behind TechTags in-house, we worked with Network Appliance and Hitachi to implement them, and want to continue to build collaborative relationships with local industry leaders to add features and functionality. In the meantime, we are honored to receive this recognition for our work on TechTags, and look forward to enhancing and sharing the technology with other science and technology museums."
TechTags take advantage of recent advances in radio frequency identification (RFID), networking, and data storage to create a more personalized and longer lasting educational experience for museum visitors. 50 interactive exhibits in the Museum utilize tag readers, and 24% of visitors are following-up their museum experiences on their personal webpage, (my.thetech.org). The tags are still in the early stages of development and The Tech hopes that additional funding will allow the creation of a system of group tags that would enhance the ability of educators to extend the learning experience into the classroom.
The TechTag program was made possible in large part by significant grants from the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health; and from the National Science Foundation.
ASTC is an organization of science centers and museums dedicated to furthering the understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences. Founded in 1973, ASTC now numbers more than 555 members in 42 countries. Science Center and Museum Members include not only science-technology centers and science museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, space theaters, and natural history and children's museums.
The Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience is evaluated in four categories: the unique application of new ideas and creative practices, the embodiment of the ASTC values, the ability to further the museum's mission by making a lasting impact on the visitor, and the potential to serve as a model for the field.
About The Tech Museum of Innovation:
The Tech Museum of Innovation is an interactive technology and science experience. Located in San Jose, California - the Capital of Silicon Valley – its mission, as a public-benefit corporation, is to inspire the innovator in everyone. Through hands-on exhibits, educational programs, the annual Tech Challenge student team competition, and the internationally recognized Tech Museum Awards, presented by Applied Materials, Inc., The Tech Museum of Innovation honors the past, celebrates the present, and encourages the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future. For more information about The Tech Museum of Innovation, visit www.thetech.org