Waddesdon Manor

Interpreting a French Renaissance chateau built by a Rothschild in 19th century.

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Waddesdon Manor was created to impress. Built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885, the house displays his collection of arts and was intended to host parties for the rich and famous. Since 1957, Waddesdon Manor has been owned by the National Trust and managed by the Rothschild Foundation - a family charitable trust.

Waddesdon showcases a fantastic art collection alongside the splendour and workmanship of the interior decoration itself. For this reason each room is displayed as it was in the 19th century - with no wall labels or signs to help visitors connect to the fascinating stories behind each object. Smartify was appointed to create a guide experience that would provide information about the entire house - for the decorative arts and architecture as well as the paintings.

The Challenge

As a historic house, Waddesdon Manor contains many 3D objects and furniture on different perspective planes: in front of each other and on top of each other within the same space. Clusters of porcelain, mirrors, marbles and antique furniture; or cabinets of weaponry, clocks and coins can present challenges for image-recognition technology when it must function across all mobile devices. Imagine the stark contrast in camera quality between the latest smartphones compared to an old iPhone 6! We were tasked replicating Smartify’s super fast image-recognition capabilities for this mini Versaille.

Our Solution

Working closely with Rothschild Foundation, Smartify’s engineers and designers explored all manner of ways to provide information in an intuitive and elegant way.

We created the ‘group scan’ feature which enables users to scan an entire case or room in one go. Group scan is a heads-up experience that keeps the best of Smartify’s scanning technology with helpful design to deliver the right balance between highlights and in-depth information for a cluster of objects. Visitors are able to explore a number of objects at once and pick out features more easily. Smartify carried out user testing with varied audience groups to ensure the experience was as accessible as it is awe-inspiring. The experience was launched with Waddesdon’s new Treasury exhibition highlighting the jewels and precious objects in the collection.

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Group scan feature

The Results

Given to everyone as they enter the exhibition, our Smartify guide has already become an integral part of the visitor experience. It has received high praise and one of the surprising outcomes has been that because visitors are so much more engaged, visitor assistants have been given extra training to help them to interact even more with visitors.

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