Install of the Month
Jun 1, 2002 12:00 PM
MEXICO'S EL REY Educational Theme Park and Mayan archeological site in Cancun is a vividly engaging tourist attraction that still maintains the solemnity befitting the ancient ruins. Using a Sennheiser Guideport wireless tour guide system, the park's operators were able to avoid noise-polluting P.A. systems. Visitors instead wear headphones that automatically deliver location-specific information in any of eight languages (including Mayan). Sennheiser's Uwe Sattler helped set up the system.
After it was abandoned 500 years ago, El Rey was rediscovered in 1842 and excavated in 1954. It takes its name from a skeleton found at the site that is believed to have been a Mayan king. Today, the theme park brings the site to life with reenactments of daily Mayan life, historical dances and Mayan cuisine. It consists of three sections: the archeological site, the museum village and the visitor center.
- Quiet But EssentialThe developers did not want to spoil the pre-Columbian experience with P.A.s or anything that might add noise pollution. (Visitors can get their fair share of that in nearby Cancun!) At the same time, they wanted to convey the significance of the displays, ruins and reenactments without employing unsightly multilingual placards or an outdated tour system. The Sennheiser Guideport system met their needs perfectly, keeping noise levels low and information content and interactivity high.A standard PC or laptop configures the system but is not required for further operation of the system. Each visitor receives a headphone and pocket receiver, programmed to the desired language and level before entering the exhibits. Prerecorded audio clips are stored and transmitted continuously by strategically located base transmitters throughout the various zones of the museum.As a visitor enters a zone, an identifier initiates the receiver to download and store all appropriate audio clips for the exhibits in that zone. When the visitor approaches an exhibit, the associated identifier triggers the receiver to play back the corresponding audio clip. Triggered events stored in each visitor's receiver also benefit the theme park's curators. Optional Guideport software enables the curators to use the receivers to track the routes taken by visitors. That data is compiled into usable statistics, generating marketing information and allowing curators to make informed decisions about exhibit updates and structures.
- Not a Hard JobInstallation at El Rey proved to be a simple matter. The only stipulation was that there would be no digging and no disturbance of the site's surroundings. A room in the visitor center houses the Sennheiser Guideport equipment racks. The park purchased 400 receivers and 40 chargers (each capable of recharging ten receivers). Sixteen cell transmitters distribute information in eight languages to four zones via 28 antennas throughout the park. Forty-six identifiers are hidden throughout the park and are completely invisible to visitors.
As the park nears completion, Mexican government officials and dignitaries will officially open El Rey to considerable fanfare. Many will cast a keen eye on the Sennheiser Guideport system as an interactive, seamless alternative to the inflexible tour guide systems or noisy P.A.s.
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