Science Center Revamps Exhibits with Avaya Technology

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Using cell phones, PDAs, or other personal communications devices, visitors to Liberty Science Center will be able to enhance their visiting experience with the help of speech technology.

Combining Avaya’s Voice Portal with Nuance Communication’s speech recognition software, museum guests will be able to access more in-depth information about exhibits by dialing a number and responding to voice prompts. The technology allows visitors to retrieve and download supplementary information and commentary, vote in museum polls, and contribute additional information of their own. The $109 million upgrade is part of the center’s redefined mission statement: “Science Now, Science Everywhere.”

The museum, which previously acted as a natural sciences’ center targeted primarily toward school-aged children, is trying to expand its visitor base to include families, young adults, and even students enrolled in higher education. The additions, according to Brian Faniro, an applications sales executive at Avaya, will allow for a more tailored experience, allowing visitors to pick and choose from topics covered in exhibitions, and promoting a more comprehensive approach to various aspects of the natural sciences.

“There isn’t another museum in the country with this kind of offering,” Faniro states. “They wanted to provide an interactive experience from when they walked in the door and when they left.”

To access the technology, patrons dial a main phone number and follow a series of voice prompts to direct them toward more detailed information. The application uses natural voice because, according to Faniro, the center wanted to keep the experience conversational and relaxed. In addition, Avaya worked with the center to develop an approach to how the application would be structured in relation to what visitors expected to gain from the museum.

“When you go to a museum, how long are you going to stand and listen to an exhibit? Is it really important to offer hours of information for one exhibit? We talked about people’s behaviors and the likelihood of them using the technology,” Faniro says.

But, because the non-profit center operates on a limited budget, Faniro says Avaya designed a voice portal, rather than an IVR application, making updates easier.

“If they’re able to carry through on all their plans, it’s going to be very state-of-the-art, including the point where we reach having experts who are able to have live conversations with visitors,” Faniro states. “The ability to take one platform, modify it for one application, but being able to build on it, is one of the key reasons they chose to use Avaya. They were able to leverage their investment for short- and long-term strategies.”

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