Working with Temi, the robot museum guide
By Chew Wei Che, Manager, Smart Nation Platform Solutions
The next time you visit a museum, your guide may be highly knowledgeable and informative, has tons of additional museum content at their fingertips, and is great at navigating you through the exhibits. And, they may not be human.
Meet Temi, an autonomous robot guide currently on trial at Changi Chapel and Museum.
Temi’s role at the museum is to enhance the overall visitor experience by providing greater access to museum’s content, and guiding visitors through the various exhibits.
Temi is an exciting development in harnessing robotics in our Smart Nation, and my team and I at GovTech’s Smart Nation Platform Solutions (SNPS) and Sensors & Internet of Things (SIoT) divisions have had the pleasure of working with Temi since last year.
As with any form of talent acquisition, Temi had to be selected from a pool of suitable robotic candidates.
Our search began back in Oct 2021 when National Heritage Board approached GovTech for a robotics solution for the guided tours in their museums.
There were many highly qualified “applicants” and competition was stiff. But after several rounds of selections, Temi won because they were the nimblest, a must-have quality when traversing long stretches of museum corridors. Temi also readily took orders, was highly adaptable, and most importantly, had an acceptable “salary” range.
We offered Temi the position, and we’re thankful they accepted without hesitation.
Temi learns to get around
Once Temi was onboard, we had to orientate and train them to work in a museum environment.
Temi is already equipped with depth and Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors to help them navigate around obstacles.
In addition, we programmed Temi with the Changi Chapel and Museum’s floorplan, mapping numerous waypoints along the museum exhibit route. With this input, Temi is able to move autonomously through the exhibits.
Temi can even open doors on their own. What makes this possible is something called DECADA Edge Gateway, a product and software solution which connects and manages sensors in Internet of Things (IOT) devices. The team integrated DECADA Edge with the museum’s door control system, giving Temi the ability to open doors for itself and visitors.
But everyone, even robots, has their blind spots. During testing, the team found that Temi had problems recognising glass doors, which, to be fair, can confound humans too. The solution? Stickers to help Temi see the doors and prevent unwanted bumps.
Temi learns to guide
Temi is, after all, a guide, so they not only had to learn the museum’s content, but also know exactly when to offer it to visitors. Like their human counterparts, they had to ascertain how quickly or slowly to move through the exhibits, and when to stop and speak to visitors.
With the technical team’s programming, Temi knows exactly where on the musuem’s exhibit route to stop and display additional video content on their screen.
Another problem cropped up during testing — Temi’s voice risked getting drowned out by the other video exhibits in the museum. But with DECADE Edge and audio mixers installed, the volume of video exhibits now automatically decreases whenever Temi is nearby and presenting. That’s one useful parlour trick Temi has up their sleeve.
Temi is on probation
Temi has already started work properly at Changi Chapel Museum, but my team and I are keeping a close eye over the new guide’s performance. Over the next couple months, we will continue to tweak and perfect Temi’s movement and presentation.
Temi is also proving to be quite the polyglot — we’re training Temi to present in multiple languages, so that they will be able to guide foreign guests as well.
In time, Temi will be giving visitors a seamless and enriching experience at Changi Chapel and Museum. And one day, its siblings too will be guiding visitors at other museums around Singapore.
Find out more about GovTech’s technical products and solutions on Singapore Government Developer Portal