Meet Temi – your friendly museum guide who happens to be a robot
Mention museums and you’ll usually think of history, artifacts, and antiques.
But head down to Changi Chapel and Museum and you’ll get a dose of cutting-edge technology. There, one of the museum guides moves around on wheels, and welcomes you with audio and videos on a flat screen.
That’s right, Temi is a commercial robot that’s been programmed and trained as a tour guide for the museum featuring life as prisoners of war during World War II.
What’s Temi and what can it do?
Though petite, with height reaching the waist level of an average adult, Temi is fully equipped with the necessary intellect and wisdom to navigate and lead museum visitors through various exhibits entirely on its own.
It enhances the museum experience for visitors by narrating stories and playing video content that adds context to the physical exhibitions on display. All visitors have to do is register at the entrance, and use the touchscreen on Temi to interact with the robot. As such, visitors can engage Temi at their convenience instead of waiting for scheduled tours by human guides.
How does Temi do what it does?
The project started when the National Heritage Board approached GovTech for solutions to complement its human tour guides. After considering several options, the team decided to build upon an existing, commercially available robot for its mechanical tour guide.
GovTech engineers developed a customised app to display the videos for visitor viewing. They also handled the mapping of the path that Temi would move in the museum. This involved detailing every waypoint in the tour route so that the robot can move autonomously.
The lidar sensor on Temi enables it to detect obstacles in the path so it doesn’t knock into other visitors or objects that are in its way. Contractors were also engaged to paste stickers on certain translucent glass doors so that Temi will be able to recognise the door as an object it should avoid.
Temi is also able to navigate back to the charging station when it is low on battery, so no human effort is needed to carry it back when the battery runs out.
Any special tricks up Temi’s sleeves?
Doors are not an issue for Temi! The robot can trigger signals to open automated sliding doors and keep them open while it passes through.
It can also automatically lower the volume of other exhibit videos that are playing near the robot. This is so that visitors can focus on the content that Temi is presenting. When Temi moves to another area, the volume of the exhibit videos will revert to the original level.
To enable these functions, the GovTech team had to retrofit Temi with some hardware known as DECADA Edge. The device acts as a gateway to control the opening of the glass doors and lowering the volume of the sound system. This is done by relaying and transmitting messages from the robot, enabling it to communicate with other sensors.
What’s next for Temi?
Temi is deployed at Changi Chapel and Museum as a proof of concept. If the guide proves to be a hit with visitors, more of such robot guides will be deployed to other museums so that more## visitors can benefit from them.
There is also potential to further develop Temi’s ability to interact with other tech equipment. For example, it is possible to programme Temi to coordinate a fully synchronised visual and audio show by connecting to different lighting, sound and IoT systems. This will make for an immersive tour experience that engages visitors’ different senses.
Curious to find out more? Then head on down to Changi Chapel and Museum to meet your friendly robot guide!https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/meet-temi