So here in the Unites States, ALCHEMY studio and many of our colleagues in museums, science centers, designers, fabricators, and media producers are headed to the American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Baltimore. So this week’s inspiration is just a little flight of fancy as we pack our bags and as always don’t forget to pack an umbrella. You never know! See you there! (booth 411)
So, a few days ago, we posted the new interface/augmented reality project by Fujitsu Laboratories. This offers some interesting ideas for integrating augmented reality into museum exhibition environments. Now we have a new one to take a look at.
Here is another new digital interface that offers more fascinating ways to interact with digital information. AquaTop turns a pool of water into an interactive, three-dimensional digital interface surface.
AquaTop is a projection system that uses something like bath salts to create a white water screen surface. (Most likely, other substances could work as well.) The other components include a sensor system (in this case, Kinect), a projector, lighting control, and interactive programming. The system won the Grand Prize at Laval Virtual this year.
There is something intuitive and pleasing about the physicality of water and the common digital “touch” interface. Makes one wonder what other actions we might develop if we projected on water more often.
One particularly fascinating thing about AquaTop is that it directly and visually demonstrates multiple points of interface – for example, by showing visible markers when someone touches the surface with multiple fingers – from under the surface! We’re also intrigued about using other sensor systems and how we might manipulate things like waves or other physical water phenomena. We can also imagine some truly creative and fun ways to incorporate this technology into a water play area or other water related exhibit.
AquaTop has some similar attirbutes to the posting we had about 3d projections. You can check out that earlier post here.
What ideas do you have? We’d love to hear what you’re imagining.
A shout-out to Louise Julie Bertrand who pointed us to this project – thank you.
This piece done in Linz, Austria allowed experiencers to get the view of feeling of walking amongst the clouds that might fill the sky. The installation uses high pressure pumps and fog nozzles. What a special experience this might be to have as part of an institution from a aviation museum, children’s museum to an exhibition on weather, birds or even dreaming.
The second piece is “fluff” an interactive lighting system from the Japanese design studio tangent.
This interactive lighting display made from balloons (1.1 meters in diameter) and LEDs changes its appearance according to sound and video displays. What immediately came to mind was to use this to create the feeling of being beneath the waves surrounded by “jellies” or as an evocative space to discuss the idea of different forms of life such as what might evolve on a gas giant.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our field’s exhibition spaces would focus as much on this type of inspiration as they often do on curricula or education.
As technologies develop, the interaction and interplay between the physical world and the digital world become more enmeshed. Certainly, this is an area of continual development and exploration in exhibition design – in particular in dealing with what has traditionally been 2D graphics. Recently there has been a proliferation of moving away from physically printed panels to providing digital touch panels that take advantage of what the digital medium can provide.
A twist that suggests a different approach, or one that offers interesting differences, is the new system generated by Fujitsu Laboratories , which is an augmented reality user interface.
How this might be used in an exhibit/exhibition medium is a fascinating thought. Rather than incorporating a light-emitting screen, one could still create physical graphics that have a hidden overlay of depth or could be sampled to a “digital scrapbook” without the need for any screen. In addition, the idea of other printed material, of physically built material, or even artifacts having direct interplay with such a system is exciting to contemplate. From a design perspective,
what is nice about this approach is the clarity and simplicity of the interface and the design, as well as the invisibility of the technology with the physical object.
Finally, it also turns around the whole augmented reality approach. Rather than the added information requiring viewing on a digital device, it instead becomes part of the very physical object one is manipulating.
So, every once in a while we run across an interactive that just delights and makes us say “What a fun time.” Here is one that was on display last year in Brooklyn that was too much fun. You might have seen it. Check out Wildbytes’ “Super Heroes” piece.
One point to think about that makes this much better than any other “blue screen” experience is the immense scale of the activity. As mentioned in previous posts, scale is often overlooked in our field’s approach to tabletop, individual or small group exhibition design.
Often science centers and other museums look to engage people about how to understand different aspects of phenomena in three dimensional space on two dimensional displays (screens, graphics etc.).
What we often do not do is represent the three dimensional space in actual 3D space, allowing us to present the phenomena’s behavior in more powerful ways.
But since we are three dimensional creatures possibly this is the best way to understand or appreciate 3d space and what occurs there – seen or unseen.
Here are two examples that certainly one can riff on that made us think about this. The first is FLUIDIC by WHITEvoid.
Using 12,000 suspended spheres, a camera that senses the viewer and eight high speed lasers it creates an almost magical experience. We believe that being illuminated by laser light adds something special. Certainly a concept programmed to both enchant but to do so mimicking certain scientific phenomena could be impactful. By the way want to see this in person? Go to the Temporary Museum for New Design in Milan where it will be on display through April 14th.
This piece includes 8,064 spheres and LED lit. It too responds to visitors. This time though it’s possible to enter the space. Imagine explaining crystal structure, data movement or some other unseen movement through 3D space. You can see this at the Gallery ROM for Art and Architecture in Oslo, Norway
Often we fixate the on screens as the visual way to present information. What we may need to do more of is dedicate more space and create 3D spaces to represent 3D phenomena. We feel this creates an experience and opportunity that in fact is more powerful that what we have normally done.
If you know of more examples send them to us here on the blog.
Certainly some of the most pleasurable and engaging experiences are when an environment/exhibit can create a physical experience that is a “metaphor” for another experience we engage in. In some ways touch tables experience are version of this (some more refined than others) where we play with “files” or “objects”, passing to others, manipulating them like they were physically there.
Those that can break from a singular location are even more special. One of the more delightful and intriguing that we have run across is the Re: Sound Bottle by by Jun Fujiwara from Tama Art University. Watch to completely understand.
The idea of chasing fireflies, tadpoles or other collection experiences but instead collecting sounds is delightful physical metaphor.
Imagine collecting rainbows, or documenting smell, capturing gravity…
It certainly is inspirational to think about how an experience, in our museums and science centers, could we create an experience where you manipulate, capture or collect items that are less physical but no more real. And in doing so discover or become aware of something new while also connecting with some age old or primal experience.
Something we have been running across has been videos that have been exploring what can be observed and what becomes apparent of as one looks at a scene/event/through a compressed or extended time period. For example:
“Departures from San Diego Int Airport Dec 27, 2012” by Cy Kuckenbake
The title provides a self-explanatory interpretation of six hours of aircraft departures at the San Diego International Airport. It is powerful way to make a common everyday experience incredibly amazing as well as impart the scale of a technological activity that occurs every day.
Meanwhile the film “Street” showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by James Nares
This slows down time while also using time as way to transect geographically the city of New York. It allows one to examine the in “moving” detail the incredible complexity of city life.
These experience point how we as experience developers and designers should at times break out of our “in the moment” experiences.
As we look at content and stories one should think how time can be manipulated to bring a new perspective and aid the impact we wish to create.
Let us know what amazing time “pieces” you know of
So, with another snowfall here at the studio yet again our thoughts turned to spring and the upcoming summer. With that in mind, we share with you this simple but evocative experience that could be at home at an art, science, or children’s museum.
21 Swings by daily tous les jours a design studio with a focus on participation. This piece takes what we what have as field have done countless times (musical stairs or giant keyboards) and adds a complexity element (different series of notes) and also adds the element of group participation, which can be sometimes hard in other musical experiences. It should be pointed out that this experience is part of the “empathiCITY, making our city together” exhibition at the 2013 biennale internationale design saint-etienne.
daily tous les jours has done some other interesting pieces that might be of interest. Check out the these:
There are often experiences or demonstrations that just cry out for someone to use them as an inspiration for an interactive exhibit. Here is one that we are experimenting with here At ALCHEMY studio for a local fabricator to bring to a science center near you.
This experiment/demonstration was done by Brusspup. It involves not only making sure the device is constructed correctly but also viewing it with a camera that is in sync with the sound. What is clear is that it’s possible to create a very interesting experience demonstrating several science principles in which one side of the exhibit seems like somewhat chaotic water movement but the other side seems to reveal a “frozen in time” moment.
If you are interested in our investigation of this phenomenon/experience and would like to explore what we are doing and perhaps acquiring some version of what we com up with drop us a line.
A special shout out!
And, as always, if you have something you think we should share, send it to us.We should mention we recently got several submittals from fans of inspiration weeklies. We’ll be rolling these out over the next few weeks with our own examples of things that are inspiring us and making us think about the experiences we find in our informal learning lives.