Viet Nam News
By Hồng Vân
Museum visitors can now use their smartphone to explore and understand artifacts with Friendly Guide, an application recently developed by a group of IT students, without the help of a museum guide.
The Friendly Guide application acts as a guide providing information to visitors. In the near future, guides may not be needed at Việt Nam’s museums at all, Huy said.
The application has been developed by Make a Difference (MaD), a group of final-year students in Hà Nội. They are Khúc Hữu Huy (team leader), Nguyễn Hữu Quyết, Nguyễn Cao Thắng and Nguyễn Hữu Minh, as well as Nguyễn Xuân Tùng, and Phan Văn Giang, who all major in Information Technology; and Nguyễn Phương Anh, who majors in Graphics Design.
All visitors need is a smartphone with the Friendly Guide application installed on it and an internet connection. They can then preview the image of an artifact in the museum and all the information related to the artifact is subsequently presented on the device.
“For some historical events, such as the Bạch Đằng battle, for example, visitors can watch a demonstration of the battle, which is a more lively and interesting way to learn about an event rather than simply reading information,” Huy said.
The application was piloted at the National History Museum in Hà Nội in November and officially launched at the traditional hall of FPT University to receive feedback from users. Based on the feedback of visitors, MaD will improve some of its content, to make it more user-friendly, which is expected to be released in the next three to six months.
“I think it’s wonderful. There is so much more that can be said. It makes it easy for first-time visitors to get information more quickly. I like that it connects directly to the artifact. I would love for it to be available in English,” a Scottish visitor, who had an opportunity to try out the application at the National History Museum, said.
The application has a promising market of users. It can be used not only at museums, but also in other areas, and has the potential to be exported to other countries, according to Nguyễn Đức Long, director of the Hi-tech Business Incubation Centre.
n action: A foreign tourist uses the Friendly Guide application in the National History Museum. —Photo Courtesy of Khúc Hữu Huy
MaD has a shared vision and passion for making a difference in simple ways. Harnessing the passion and enthusiasm of the youth, the group hopes the product will introduce new ideas and lead to convenience for users, team leader Huy, said.
“The team members are all interested in startups and application development and some also had small startup projects and had created some applications before, but the commercial value and feasibility of their projects was not high,” Huy said.
“Initially we came up with many ideas. Although we are final-year students and busy with studies, we are still very passionate about this project. Each of us spent time to present an idea and its feasibility. Eventually we agreed on the Friendly Guide application.
"It took the team six months to develop the project. We aim to make a small contribution to improving the museum experience for both local and international visitors.
"As we are about to graduate from university, we are under the pressure to get a job; we, however, still wanted to pursue our passion to develop new applications that make the daily life of people easier, Huy said.
Currently, Việt Nam has some 150 museums, of which 20 are in Hà Nội, and none has ever used this type of application before.
“In Việt Nam, locals are generally not very interested in visiting museums, so we hope that our application will help museums attract more visitors,” team member Quyết said.
Presently, many museums in foreign countries and some in Việt Nam use the Auto Guide system, but it is proven to be not very effective because information is available in audio form, but with Friendly Guide, image, video and even a demonstration of a battle will be shown to the smartphone user, Huy said.
The Friendly Guide application won first prize at the Start-up Uni in November last year, an annual competition aimed at encouraging creative ideas and technology application, besides honouring those with excellent startup projects all over the country.
The Friendly Guide project was called “highly feasible” by Trần Hữu Đức, director of FPT Ventures, at the competition.
“When it was announced that Friendly Guide won first prize at Start-up Uni competition, we burst with happiness. It is recognition for all the efforts put in by the team over the last few months. It is the persistence and patience of each team member that led to the success of our project,” Huy said.
Friendly Guide was selected over promising projects of other talented teams from prestigious universities all over the country, such as a website teaching programme with a focus on practical rather than theory and the Smart Education project which enables students to conduct experiments in a virtual laboratory.
Until now, the application had received positive feedbacks from users. Most found the application easy to use and were satisfied with the experience, Huy said.
“In the long term, we will use the application in not only museums, but also other tourist attractions in Việt Nam,” he added. — VNS