Whether it is via Facebook or via text, chatbots are very big right now for news and service. Why shouldn’t they be big for museums? In 2013, Micah Walter from the Cooper-Hewitt created Object Phone, a distant app in which each exhibit and object was associated to a number and if this number was texted to Object Phone, the app would answer information about the object through the Twilio API.
Object Phone then evolved to integrate an audiotour and be used in the museum itself.
June 2016, Object Phone reached a new milestone: it officially joined the ranks of chatbots. Through a subscription service, users (in the US) can receive an MMS with an exhibit from the Cooper Hewitt collections every single day at noon.
People can then answer to the message by asking questions about the collections. If the question is easy enough for Object Phone to answer on its own, it sends back an answer. If it is trickier and too complicated for the bot, the question is sent to a dedicated Slack channel so the museum staff can answer it, which means that the teams only answer questions were they can really bring some added value. It gives visitors and curious users a way to talk without having to download a dedicated app, just with texts. And that’s just one step of the journey Micah Walter imagines for Object Phone. As Facebook, Line and WhatsApp integrate chatbots, Object Phone could soon be embedded in apps millions of people use everyday and have a layer of machine learning to be able to understand what each user likes and is interested in.
Interestingly enough, it seems like Micah Walter developed and improved Object Phone in very little time. It means that you to could plug your collections to a chatbot thanks to a little work by the person in your organisation who knows how to code, and that you could expand it to answer questions about simple things like opening hours so you and your staff can focus on building a relationship with users who have questions that really require your knowledge. So, are you ready to chat?