Start the New Year With an All-Inclusive Beacon Tour

11 Jan

beacon tours and native apps for museums, parks, and cities

For a limited time, purchase our native iOS and Android app bundle with 10 beacons and save up to 20%. Choose from our Pro, Lite, or Audio Guide products. Your beacons ship pre-configured and ready to install with no additional set-up fees.

Location aware beacons use low-energy Bluetooth to ensure your visitors receive the most relevant content based on their precise location. They are great to implement in locations that struggle with connectivity. Learn more about the benefits of deploying beacon technology on our website.

Limited time offer expires 3/31/16.

Contact us today to learn more or explore our products.

OnCell Announces New Chief Technologist

14 Dec

Technology Veteran Kevin Grinberg Selected to Lead Company’s Engineering Strategy

PITTSFORD, N.Y., December 14, 2015–OnCell, a leader in the mobile technology space for museums, parks, and cultural destinations, today announced the appointment of Kevin Grinberg to the role of Chief Technologist. Grinberg will be responsible for the company’s technology strategy, engineering, and quality assurance operations as well as product research and development.

Grinberg is a seasoned technology leader with 20 years of application development experience. He’s successfully delivered numerous consumer- and enterprise-facing projects on platforms and has founded half a dozen startups. He graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University and holds a BA in Computer Science as well as an MA in Politics.

OnCell acquired Boston-based TourSphere, the first of its kind mobile app builder for museums, in 2013. Grinberg served as lead developer for TourSphere and ensured its technology was focused on client needs and a seamless user experience.

“Kevin is a true technologist with extraordinary vision and expertise within SaaS-based (Software-as-a-Service) platforms,” says Thomas Dunne, OnCell CEO and President. “I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to OnCell and back to our core product, which he helped to develop.”

The New York-based company works closely with museums and cultural destinations to develop audio tours and apps with their easy-to-use content management system, which allows organizations to upload media content, create points of interest, and output mobile tours. Visitors are given instant access to educational content through their mobile devices.

“Innovation is a key element of our strategy and Kevin’s combination of skills, experience, and passion brings a unique perspective to the role of Chief Technologist,” says Dunne.

OnCell technology has powered millions of mobile tours for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, museums, and historic sites.

About OnCell

OnCell provides a full range of mobile tour solutions integrated onto a single platform, a DIY app builder. With a variety of interactive services such as native and web apps, audio tours, beacons, mobile surveys, and scavenger hunts, OnCell helps cultural sites and organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

Contact:
Monica Barndt
Director of Marketing
OnCell
mbarndt@oncell.com

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New Feature Release: Favorites Smart Page

23 Nov

Museum and Event mobile app builder favorite sites pageYou asked and you got it! The ability to collect favorite pages in an app and to build a schedule of events is now available in the OnCell App Builder.

When you enable this functionality in your app, your visitor will see a heart icon at the top of every page in your app. The visitor taps the heart icon to add the page to their favorites list. Additionally, any page in your app can be assigned a time and date stamp, so visitors can create an easy-to-read schedule of events they are interested in at your venue.

The visitor can access all of their favorited pages by tapping the “Favorites” button found in the main navigation. Favorited pages will sort alphabetically or chronologically if a date has been set.

Our Favorites Smart Page complements any type of app, be it a tour app to collect stops that visitors would like to see, an event app to build a schedule, or a destination marketing app to save must-visit places in a city.

Explore some of the apps who have implemented favorites into their app. The Virginia Association of Museums allows conference attendees to build their own schedule, while the Cranbrook House and Gardens allows visitors to collect favorite stops on their tour.

Our new Favorites Smart Page is available in Pro plans. Contact us to learn more or to upgrade your existing plan.

Currier Museum of Art Wins Accessibility Award for Audio Tour

22 Jul

currier-appThe Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, was honored with a 2015 Access Award by the New Hampshire Association for the Blind for outstanding accomplishments in accessibility for people with disabilities. The Currier worked closely with the New Hampshire Association for the Blind to launch a mobile tour of collection highlights that includes audio with detailed visual descriptions.

“The Currier is committed to providing opportunities for all to enjoy art, and that means designing experiences that are accessible to people with disabilities,” said Leah Fox, Director of Public Programs.

The app also contains audio interpretation with transcriptions for each piece. Additionally, to help meet their accessibility goals, the Currier is fully wheelchair accessible, wall text is designed in large print, and assistive listening systems are available.

Visit the audio tour app at http://currier.toursphere.com to see how The Currier used mobile to help make art accessible to all.

 

OnCell and TourSphere Launch New Merged Website

18 Jun

As part of the final stage of the merger between OnCell and TourSphere, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new website. Access your projects and learn about the latest features from one fancy, unified site. Take a moment to take the tour!

New-OnCell-TourSphere-Website-Home-Page

 

Frontier Homestead State Park Launches TourSphere Mobile Tour

12 May Tour Stop Sign

Self-Guided Tour Offers Visitors Detailed History of Museum and Collections

Tour Stop Sign

Visitors can take a self-guided tour at Frontier Homestead State Park powered by OnCell-TourSphere.

Cedar City, UT – Frontier Homestead State Park Museum is excited to announce it has launched a new mobile tour app. The new cell phone audio tour allows park visitors access to significantly more information about artifacts and exhibits, all through their mobile devices. With almost 60 stops, visitors can enjoy little known historic details and personal reflections of yesteryear. Not only does the tour encourage visitors to explore the park at their leisure, it also allows them to take away what they have learned by providing access to the tour long after their visit.

Opened in 1973, Frontier Homestead State Park Museum interprets the history of Iron County, horse-drawn transportation, and early iron production. Attractions include the main carriage gallery, pioneer crafts, gift shop, and historic cabins.

Comprised of 27 stops inside the museum and 33 stops on the park grounds, the tour offers a glimpse into the history of Iron County, including rare wagons and carriages, historic buildings, and the realities of life on the frontier.

“We wanted to tell the story of each of the stops within the Park and Museum by looking deeper into the history of a particular topic than traditional signage alone would allow,” says Todd Prince, Park Manager. “The tour is an excellent opportunity to provide historic background, add intriguing details, and tell the special stories that make each stop memorable.”

Powered by technology provided by New York-based OnCell-TourSphere, a leader in the mobile space for cultural destinations, the Park intends to include additional tour stops as new exhibits are developed in the coming years. Development of the tour is made possible by support of the Cedar City–Brian Head Tourism Bureau.

The mobile tour can be accessed on any web-enabled device at http://frontierhomestead.toursphere.com, or by dialing (435) 868-3043. For more information call 435-586-9290. Frontier Homestead State Park is located at 635 North Main Street in Cedar City, Utah.

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About Frontier Homestead State Park

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum (FHSP) interprets the history of Iron County, Utah, horse-drawn transportation, and early iron production. Attractions include a main exhibit hall, pioneer crafts, gift shop, and historic cabins. The Park hosts various educational programs including community celebrations, public lectures, living history demonstrations, curation workshops, and volunteer programs. The north wing exhibit hall receives new exhibits every 6-8 weeks. The Museum is open year-round with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Hours are Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. September through May, and Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. June-August. For more information, contact the Park at (435) 586-9290, or by email at frontierhomestead@utah.gov

About OnCell-TourSphere

OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions for museums and cultural destinations. With a variety of interactive services such as a DIY app builder, smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, GeoAlerts, beacons, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

Share the Love With Our New Referral Program

2 Apr

Are you an existing client who is looking to save money for your organization or add new services, like native apps? Have you been wanting to launch a new tour but haven’t quite had the funds? Now’s your chance to save! We’re excited to announce a new referral program for you and your colleagues! Introduce a colleague and everyone saves when they sign up for our service plans.

OnCell TourSphere App & Audio Guide Referral Program

Do you have a referral for us? Fill out our form today, and as often as you like!

Tips & Tricks: How to Create Apps with a Custom Feel

1 Apr

If you don’t have the budget right now to create a unique custom design for your app, don’t fret. Our builder was designed to be flexible and lets you tap your creative spirit! You can easily give your app more punch by taking advantage of the app builder’s capabilities and enlisting your resident image maven.

Creating Unique Apps

A site list graphic is created as one image, but is designed to give the appearance of multiple buttons.

1. Make a unique site list by using images with touchable hotspots.

Create an original image graphic for your site list that breaks down your app content into specific categories. In the builder, add the Image Map widget to the desired page and upload the graphic. You’ll then be able to draw touchable “hotspots” over each category and turn each section into an interactive “button”. Since you are creating this image specifically for your app, you can choose to graphically represent the categories as circles, squares, rectangles, even icons–it’s up to you!

Check out a great example created by the Cranbrook House and Gardens. The Home page of their app features an image map with touchable hotspots.

2. Make those site lists feel even more custom by using images with a transparent background.

Consider creating a site list graphic with a transparent background. In the example below, the image on the left was created with a textured blue background and saved as a JPG. The image on the right was created with a transparent background and saved as a PNG file in order to preserve the transparency. Note how using a transparent background gives the impression the category “buttons” are floating on the background of the app–as opposed to obscuring the background–and leaves more of a custom feel. Again, the client is utilizing our Image Map widget to turn each category into a touchable hotspot to drive the user to the appropriate page in the app.

Mobile Tour Example Home Page

A client uses special graphics and the image map widget to make their Home page pop.

3. Add text or logos to your images.

Strategically adding your logo or app name to strategic images in your app can make a huge impact on its overall look and feel. In the image above, the client added text to their home page image using image editing software. Because the client was able to implement fonts from their organization’s style guide, the end user is instantly presented with the client’s branding. On this particular sample, the client turned off the page padding in the builder to allow the image to span the full width of the page, which presents a different feel as well. This setting can be changed on a page-by-page basis by clicking on the page header in the builder.

4. Create transparent banners in your app.

Using image editing software, you can easily mount graphics you’ve created for other purposes as a way to bring in your branding. In the examples below on the left, the Canadian Museum of Nature has reused an existing image designed for a printed map and centered it onto a transparent banner. On the right, a client’s logo is used instead. In both scenarios the banner is created at 1024 pixels wide, with the image centered, and saved as a transparent PNG. The transparency of the file, and the fact that the image is centered–rather than running the full width of the page–presents a more refined feel to your app. If you create a banner for your logo, you can play with the height of the file and reuse it throughout your app–taller banners at the top of a key pages like a Home or About Us, or shorter ones subtly placed at the bottom of each page in your app. For more info and examples about sizing banners, visit our Learning Center.

Images mounted and centered onto transparent image banners lend a custom feel to your app.

Images mounted and centered onto transparent image banners lend a custom feel to your app.

 

Incorporating some of these ideas can transform your app and turn one of our stock themes into one that reflects your organization’s identity. If your organization does not have image editing software, you can always use free ones like Pixlr or Photoshop CS2.

Did you learn any tricks while building your app? Tell us about them!

2015 Schedule of Events

31 Mar

Contact us at info@toursphere.com if you are attending any of these events and would like to schedule a dedicated chat about your mobile interpretive strategy. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Museum Association of New York
April 12-14
Corning, NY

Nevada Tourism Commission’s Rural Roundup
April 15-17
Carson City, NV
Join our President Thomas Dunne for the mobile session History as a Hook on April 16th at 10am and 11am. He’ll be co-presenting with Peter Barton, Administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums and History.

American Alliance of Museums
April 26-29
Atlanta, GA
Booth #827

National Association for Interpretation (NAI) International Conference
May 3-7
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Booth #5

Association of Midwest Museums
July 19-22
Cincinnati, OH
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!

Southeastern Museum Conference Annual Meeting
October 12-14
Jacksonville, FL
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!
Join our VP of Market Development Kevin Dooley and a panel of your museum colleagues as they present the session Maximize Your Mobile App. You’ll learn how to leverage your app to drive memberships, fundraise, meet accessibility goals, engage with visitors of all ages, and more.

New England Museum Association
November 4-6
Portland, ME
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!

App Spotlight: The Noah Webster House

30 Mar

Noah-Webster-App-HomeQ&A with Sarah St. Germain, Coordinator of Public Programs at the Noah Webster House

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is located in the restored birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster. Webster was a national figure known not only for the first American dictionary and the Blue-Backed Speller, but also for being a federalist, an abolitionist, and a cofounder of Amherst College.

Our team worked closely with the Noah Webster House to create a unique custom design and help build a striking multilingual app. The app was designed especially for onsite tablet devices. It features English and Spanish tours, unique content for children, and closed captioned videos to better meet their accessibility goals.

Q. How many visitors do you see a year?

A. Around 4,000 visitors take tours of the house each year.

Q. What were the main goals for creating your app?

A. We wanted to extend our audience and reach out to the deaf, hard of hearing, and Spanish speaking communities. West Hartford, Connecticut is a highly diverse town and we want to be able to offer an experience that just about anyone can enjoy. We would like to expand the tour to other languages in the future.

Noah-Webster-App-RoomQ. How does it enhance the visitor experience?

A. The videos, object information, and narration give a completely different story than we’ve told in the past. It includes videos of an actor playing Noah Webster and using his words to tell the story of his life. Each one is only a couple of minutes long. We also included videos of local experts talking about and demonstrating a variety of things. Hearth cooking, weaving, architecture, room use, etc. And with the videos for kids, by kids, there’s something for every age group. Visitors love to see the kids react to eating colonial foods that are weird to kids now, like black pudding and clams.

Q. How are you using the app?

A. We’re using the app on days when we don’t have a tour guide.

Q. How are onsite devices used in your mobile strategy?

A. We only have four tablets available now, but we’re hoping to add more soon. Each tablet is loaded with the proprietary app and can be used by one or more visitors.

Q. Why did you choose to have onsite devices only, and not a web or native app for download in the app stores?

A. Since the app covers the entire house, we decided not to give away our tour completely. We still want people to come to our site to see the historic house and interact with it and our exhibits. We are planning to post some of the videos and highlights on our website at some point.

Q. Can you tell us a little about how you created the content?

A. It was a lot of trial and error because we had a ton of information and each room narration was originally about 7 minutes. But visitors don’t want to listen to something for that long, so we found different ways to share the info, like the videos, object information, and the paintings.

Q. How did you plan the app?

A. We did a survey in 2011 about how people like to tour a museum. Half wanted a guided tour, while the other half wanted a self-guided tour. We can now cater to just about everyone.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. Get funding first! It was a tough road to get planning grants, then have to apply and reapply for implementation grants. The funding was definitely why it took so long to finalize the app. If you can layout your entire plan first and talk to the funders along the way, it will save you a lot of time. In the end, the changes we made along the way have made our tour stronger and more applicable to our site.

Q. How are you marketing the app?

A. We’ve sent out press releases and emails, but we also have an exhibit space in Blue Back Square in West Hartford Center. It’s a changing screen that includes info on upcoming programs and events. We have the tablet tour in the mix, so hundreds of people see it every day.

Q. What part of the app is a staff favorite?

A. We LOVE the art! Monica Vachula, the artist behind the imagery, did an amazing job at giving the historic house a more lively look. You can see the room in front of you, then look at the tablet and see what the room might have looked like with the Websters in it. There is a painting for each room, so it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Noah-Webster-House-Tour-Object

 

Though the Noah Webster House tour is not available for download, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org to learn more about the lexicographer who strongly believed that the United States had a distinctive brand of English with its own idiom, pronunciation, and style, and published the first truly American dictionary in 1783.

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