Museum in a Box

The Organisation

Museum in a Box is a novel learning aid that helps museums engage and inspire school children with their collections. In partnership with museums, the company delivers boxes of replica historic artefacts, enhanced with embedded audio and video content, into the classroom for children to discuss, learn and explore. These objects are connected devices that interact with users when brought into contact with what the company term ‘the brain’ – a piece of bespoke technology that lives in the box. This is an electronics-based system and includes an SD card, a Raspberry Pi II, Wi-Fi dongle, RFID tags and tag reader, RFID interconnector cable, power supply and audio/video output. The company combines a love for culture and museums with a passion for connected devices.

The Challenge

The company had developed a prototype of the concept and required further support in developing the product, in the areas of reducing cost, decreasing the size and increasing the functionality. The company was in the process of scaling-up significantly as they were securing agreements with both museums and schools to provide their products. Museum in a Box Ltd, therefore, needed additional support to their in-house expertise to consider a range of manufacturing options and provide recommendations as to which solution would best meet the specification of the company, its customers and its end users.

Skills Sought

  • Problem-solving and electronics design augmentation
  • Generation of ideas to achieve high levels of interaction with end users
  • Appreciation for combining culture with connectivity

The Solution

A team of four Engineering students (three Electronic and Electrical and one Mechatronic) in their third year of a MEng programme took on the project over a two-week period. The team undertook feasibility studies into various available options, including the use of a range of micro-controllers, assessing each against key criteria agreed with the company. Improvements to functionality featured as a core component of the project and the team investigated the use of voice recording, as well as introducing amplifiers and power supply implications.

Cost & Impact

The cost to the company was in time to support the project. This has accelerated the prototype for Museum in a Box Ltd by having feasibility and augmentation work completed by Lancaster University’s School of Engineering.

Business Feedback

“We were impressed with the student team and their thorough reporting on the challenges facing our technology configuration, as well as the staff in the School of Engineering. It was fun to work with everyone, and hear ideas and other input about the product. This placement has helped us move from prototype towards manufacturing on a larger scale, which is hugely valuable.” George Oates, Co-Founder and CEO, Museum in a Box Ltd.

Future Plans

Museum in a Box Ltd is currently evaluating the manufacturing and assembly options available to them in rolling out the product in the future.