After 30 hours of thinking, innovating, creating and coding at the recent Hacking the Walls hackathon at Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum, 16 teams presented ideas for engaging and enhancing the visitor experience at the Tower of David and eventually at other museums and heritage sites.

First prize went to the “Zombie Rat” group for its educational game, Escape the Kishle, designed on the ENTiTi augmented-reality and virtual-reality platform by Israel’s Waking App.

The Kishle, adjacent to the Tower of David, was built as an Ottoman prison in the 19th century. Archeological excavations have revealed remains from as early as the sixth century BCE underneath. The site opened last year to the general public.

Based on the escape room concept, Escape the Kishle uses augmented reality to infuse the experience with voices of Kishle inmates, and takes players into the times of the Crusaders, King Herod, Hasmoneans and King Hezekiah.

Zombie Rat was formed by Royi Elbag, 36, and Yaara Ilan, 39, of ARCH, which develops apps for visitors to archaeological sites. They recruited three whiz kids: Malachi Shneor (a senior at a pre-military high school in Golan Heights), Ofer Stolev (a freshman at the Hartman School for Boys, Jerusalem) and Yuval Goldshmidt (a freshman at Himmelfarb High School, Jerusalem).

The team won ₪5,000 NIS, a pair of Epson Moverio BT200 smart glasses and a package from AtoBe Accelerator at the Azrieli College of Engineering in Jerusalem that will be used to help them produce Escape the Kishle.

Cap: From left, Doron Ish Shalom of the Israel Innovation Institute, AtoBe Accelerator Director Michael Mizrahi, Elie Wurtman of PICO Partners, Sarah Kass of iJerusalem, Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber, Itzik Ozer of the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the second-place Proverb team. Photo courtesy of the Tower of David Museum
Cap: From left, Doron Ish Shalom of the Israel Innovation Institute, AtoBe Accelerator Director Michael Mizrahi, Elie Wurtman of PICO Partners, Sarah Kass of iJerusalem, Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber, Itzik Ozer of the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the second-place Proverb team. Photo courtesy of the Tower of David Museum

Second prize was won by Proverb, a threesome of Yair Dovrat, Yoav Moshe and Moshe Sakal, who recently won a hackathon for museum apps run by the European Council in Venice. For Hacking the Walls they thought up a virtual-reality experience of Jerusalem called Jeruz361degree overlaid with guiding commentary in different languages and from different religious perspectives.

Third prize winner Clusteron — Gilad Baruch from Intel and Eliran Moyal and Chen Machluf of the IDF — envisioned placing smart cameras around the museum at strategic photo spots. They’d use Intel face recognition technology to photograph visitors throughout their tour, culminating in a souvenir album presented at the end – thus encouraging visitors to leave their phones in their pocket and stay in the moment.

All three winning groups presented their ideas the following day at the national conference Museums in the Digital World: Enhancing the Visitor Experience, held in partnership with the Israel Council of Museums.

 From left, Doron Ish Shalom, Michael Mizrahi, Elie Wurtman, Sarah Kass, Eilat Lieber, Itzik Ozer and third-place Hacking the Walls winner Clusteron. Photo courtesy of the Tower of David Museum
From left, Doron Ish Shalom, Michael Mizrahi, Elie Wurtman, Sarah Kass, Eilat Lieber, Itzik Ozer and third-place Hacking the Walls winner Clusteron. Photo courtesy of the Tower of David Museum