Ottawa-area museums turn to high tech for tourism boost

Museum of History

Ottawa’s museums are turning to the latest tech to attract more visitors and deliver immersive experiences.

The Canadian Museum of History is taking advantage of a new deal between Ottawa Tourism and a local startup that helps local businesses cater to an influx of Chinese tourists. The agreement, signed in Mayor Jim Watson’s office last week, provides Ottawa Tourism’s partners with Motion Pay’s point-of-sale devices which are designed to accept WeChat Pay and Alipay, popular mobile payment methods in China.

A release states that the Museum of History is currently in the process of integrating Motion Pay’s devices. More than 40,000 Chinese tourists visited Ottawa in 2017, a 6.2 per cent increase over 2016, according to Ottawa Tourism’s figures.

Providing payment options Chinese visitors are accustomed to is a business opportunity for Canadian companies, according to Motion Pay CEO Riven Zhang.

“It’s not just a product. It’s basically a marketing tool to attract more Chinese customers,” Zhang recently told Techopia. The firm has already processed $2.5 million in transactions and its devices are in more than 1,000 businesses across the country after roughly a year in business.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is being recognized for its clever use of multimedia technology inside a recent exhibit. The American Alliance of Museums presented the local hub for natural sciences with the 2018 Gold MUSE award last week for its Arctic installation “Beyond Ice.”

The exhibit used sounds, lights and real ice to convey the climate and biodiversity of the far north. Arctic scenes and Inuit art projected onto the ice furthered the experience.

“We were searching for a way for visitors to connect emotionally with an experience of the Arctic as they enter the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery,” said the museum’s vice-president of experience and engagement Ailsa Barry in a statement. “We are thrilled that the innovation of Beyond Ice has been recognized by our global peers.”