How does it work?

2020, model V1.3 in its package

Each Box is powered by a Raspberry Pi 3 A+, and contains two speakers, an Near-Field Communication (NFC) reader, and a custom-designed Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that has an amp, power, digital-to-analog sound converter, a real-time clock, and the controller for our progress bar (that tells you when the Box is ready for a boop). 

The Box comes with a Collection of objects, and each object (3D print or postcard) has a little metal NFC sticker on it. You place the object on top of the Box, and the NFC reader says “Oooh! That’s object number 123!” It sends that information to the Raspberry Pi, which says in return, “Oooh! That’s object number 123! I’ll play audio track number 123!”. And that’s about it.

Here’s an illustration of what’s inside, from 2018:

illustration of box componentry
2018 Box components, illustration by Charlie Cattel-Killick

The Box also notes whenever an object is “booped” on it, creating a history of use that’s never existed before. You can see what’s getting booped around the world on our Boop Log, which is visible on our web platform, which we call “Heart”.

Here’s a time-lapse of George assembling a Box:

Box Assembly Timelapse from Museum in a Box on Vimeo.

You can also plug in an external speaker or connect it to a room-scale sound system. All the media is stored on an SD card, and we use 8GB cards, which store plenty.