British music gets a techie experience

The British Music Experience doesn't just highlight the country's tune talent, but its tech skills, too.

The British Music Experience (BME) is a new permanent exhibition at The O2 Bubble, within The O2 arena in London's Docklands. It is a physical amalgamation of NEC's technical innovations and Harvey Goldsmith's musical insight.

Taking you from 1945 post-war jazz through to the Brit School's finest, the interactive experience of British pop music that this installation provides is a musical and technological treat.

IT PRO was invited along to take in the sights and sounds of the show and experience the inventive technology first hand.

NEC has been providing technology for the O2 arena since the conversion of the millennium dome and first event back in June 2006. Since Bon Jovi opened the arena, many acts and exhibitions have passed through the doors as well as 12 million visitors.

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Richard Farnworth, general manager of Enterprise Solutions for NEC said of the exhibition: "We wanted to provide one of the richest and most unique experiences for a visitor so we took the experience and found a way to help people continue it and share it once they got home."

RFID tech

To get into the exhibition, as with any other, you need a ticket but the BME ticket is much more than just a piece of cardboard.

By using RFID tags and Near Field technology, like one would with an oyster card, NEC could track what they called a visitors "content journey." As you go around the exhibition there are plenty of well marked points to touch your ticket, registering your interest in a particular area be it Adam Ant's original jacket from Stand and Deliver to hand written lyrics for Yellow by Coldplay.

Each ticket then has printed a personal "MyBME" number and in a matter of hours after your visit you can go to the MyBME website and find all the information you touched into as well as extras about the artists, era and three free songs to download from iTunes.

Farworth said: "As a technology provider, we were keen to use more of this forward thinking technology, like you haven't seen before, and it gives NEC a chance to personalise your experience too."

Getting interactive

Across each of the time zones there are a variety of displays, timelines and interactive points to get involved but it isn't just memorabilia and artist information available. There are also two more interactive experiences to have some fun with, and possibly make a fool out of yourself with at the same time.

The first of these is the Gibson Room. As you walk in there is an array of instruments in front of you for you to have a go on. By touching in your ticket you can put on headphones and get tutorials to some of the most well known songs in the past 50 years, be it on drums, bass, lead, vocals or keyboard.

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