Sunday, July 31, 2011

Old Technology Meets New at SRAC

(WAVERLY, NY) Archaic stone tools and mobile technology are working hand and hand at the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) to help visitors learn more about the people who lived in the Susquehanna and Chemung Valley regions hundreds to thousands of years ago. Quick response codes (commonly referred to as QR codes) have been installed in many areas of the SRAC exhibit hall that will be able to be read on mobile devices that are able to play YouTube videos. A QR Code is a matrix barcode that is readable by QR scanners, mobile devices with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern that are coded to things like telephone numbers and web addresses. The information encoded within the barcodes at SRAC on blue sheets of paper enables visitors the ability to watch videos with cofounders Ted Keir, Dick Cowles, Deb Twigg, and other collectors who have donated collections to SRAC explaining the exhibits where the QR codes have been placed.

SRAC’s Deb Twigg explains, “I have been placing SRAC videos on for years now in order to allow people to learn about our prehistoric past from home. But I decided to put some QR codes linking to these videos into some of our exhibits at the Center to allow visitors to watch them while they are here as well.” Twigg continued, “Ted Keir and Dick Cowles work one day a week at SRAC already, but now visitors will be able to watch these people standing at some of the same cases they are actually standing beside, taking the artifacts out and explaining them any time they visit SRAC. While this will never replace being here with Ted and Dick, it does allow you to see some of their videos and to learn from them when they aren’t able to be here in person. ”

The videos not only discuss the artifacts and how they were used, but some also tell viewers about where they were collected and when. For example, Gloria Dick donated a part of her collection from the Owego area over a year ago, and a video was taped of her discussing it at that time. As a result, there is now a QR code that allows visitors to see Gloria explaining the artifacts in the SRAC/Dick collection. SRAC is making an effort to include each collector’s stories via QR codes and videos for the existing exhibits, and for new ones that are donated in the future.

Twigg stated, “One of the things that we are really proud of at SRAC is that when a visitor comes to see our exhibits, we have tried to make it a very unique and interactive experience. We have great people like Ted Keir and Dick Cowles taking them through the exhibits, we open cases and let them hold artifacts, we have a touch screen video kiosk for our woolly mammoth exhibit, and now we have QR codes and videos placed within some of our exhibits. It really has become an interesting mix of the latest technologies that we have been able to use together with the artifacts illustrating ancient technologies that date back hundreds to thousands of years ago to make everyone’s visit to SRAC a memorable one.”

SRAC is located at 345 Broad Street in Waverly, NY. To learn more, visit or call (607)565-7960.

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