meSch, Material EncounterS with digital Cultural Heritage, has the goal of designing, developing and deploying tools for the creation of tangible interactive experiences that connect the physical dimension of museums and exhibitions with relevant digital cross-media information in novel ways.
A wealth of digital cultural heritage is currently available in on-line repositories and digital archives. It is however accessed only in a limited way and utilised through rather static modes of delivery. meSch will bridge the gap between visitors’ cultural heritage experience on-site and on-line by providing a platform for the creation of tangible smart exhibits. This platform will enable curators, artists, designers and cultural heritage professionals in general to create smart objects and intelligent spaces and to compose digital content to be embedded in smart objects and spaces without the need for specialised technical knowledge. Smart objects (like a magnifying glass or a replica) are enriched with digital technology while intelligent spaces embed sensors: both react to people, spaces and smart objects. A bespoke application (also referred to as the ‘meSch authoring tool’ or ‘meSch software platform) will adapt the content and the behaviour of the object or space to visitors, their social context and the environment.
The meSch approach is grounded on principles of co-design: the participation of designers, developers and stake-holders into the process of creation and evaluation as equal partners, and on a Do-It-Yourself philosophy of making and experimenting. Three large-scale case studies in different museums provide test beds for the real-world evaluation of meSch technology with the public and cultural heritage stakeholders.