IMLS Funds “Omeka Everywhere” Partnership with Open Exhibits

Open Exhibits
Cross-posted from the Open Exhibits blog. Great news about a new museum, collections software initiative.

We are excited to announce a new partnership between The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason UniversityIdeum (makers of Open Exhibits)  and the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media Center.

Our organizations have been awarded a National Leadership Grant for Museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences to extend two open museum platforms: Open Exhibits and Omeka.  (A full list of awardees can be found on the IMLS website.)

The project is called Omeka Everywhere. This new initiative will help keep Open Exhibits free and open for the next three years (our NSF Funding ended last month). In addition, a set of new initiatives for Open Exhibits and Omeka are planned. Here is a brief description of the project.

Dramatically increasing the possibilities for visitor access to collections, Omeka Everywhere will offer a simple, cost-effective solution for connecting onsite web content and in-gallery multi-sensory experiences, affordable to museums of all sizes and missions, by capitalizing on the strengths of two successful collections-based open-source software projects: Omeka and Open Exhibits.

Currently, museums are expected to engage with visitors, share content, and offer digitally-enabled experiences everywhere: in the museum, on the Web, and on social media networks. These ever-increasing expectations, from visitors to museum administrators, place a heavy burden on the individuals creating and maintaining these digital experiences. Content experts and museum technologists often become responsible for multiple systems that do not integrate with one another. Within the bounds of tight budget, it is increasingly difficult for institutions to meet visitors’ expectations and to establish a cohesive digital strategy. Omeka Everywhere will provide a solution to these difficulties by developing a set of software packages, including Collections Viewer templates, mobile and touch table applications, and the Heist application, that bring digital collections hosted in Omeka into new spaces, enabling new kinds of visitor interactions.

Omeka Everywhere will expand audiences for museum-focused publicly-funded open source software projects by demonstrating how institutions of all sizes and budgets can implement next-generation computer exhibit elements into current and new exhibition spaces. Streamlining the workflows for creating and sharing digital content with online and onsite visitors, the project will empower smaller museums to rethink what is possible to implement on a shoestring budget. By enabling multi-touch and 3D interactive technologies on the museum floor, museums will reinvigorate interest in their exhibitions by offering on-site visitors unique experiences that connect them with the heart of the institution—their collections.


Ideum Creative Director, Jim Spadaccini on PBS New Mexico in Focus

The latest episode of the PBS show New Mexico in Focus looked at the Economic Impact of Arts and Culture in the state. Ideum CEO and Creative Director Jim Spadaccini appeared on the panel along with Jeff Mitchell of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Loie Fecteau of New Mexico Arts, and Alice Loy of Creative Startups. 

Here’s the description and video of the show.

NMiF Producer Megan Kamerick looks at a new study on the economic impact of the arts and cultural industries. These industries pay $1.37 billion in wages and salaries and employ 43,031 New Mexicans – roughly equal to the state’s construction industry and more than the manufacturing sector. The report’s author, Jeff Mitchell of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, argues that arts and culture have become an essential precondition of prosperity and economic development, but the state needs to do more to grow this sector.

Here is the Web Extra piece.

Producer Megan Kamerick continues the discussion with Jeff Mitchell of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Loie Fecteau of New Mexico Arts, Alice Loy of Creative Startups and Jim Spadaccini of Ideum. The discuss the Building Creative Communities Conference, why there isn’t more crossover between traditional economic development and the creative communities, and how fostering creativity helps businesses grow. They also talk about how curtailing arts-related curriculum in schools is harming educational outcomes.


Virgil Ortiz Multitouch Table Installation at SFIM14

virgil ortiz

Virgil Ortiz is a renowned artist, potter, and fashion designer from Cochiti Pueblo here in New Mexico.  His work crosses boundaries from the traditional to the experimental and explores such diverse realms as pottery, designer clothing, and electronic art. 

This week as part of Santa Fe Indian Market (#SFIM14), the Virgil Ortiz Pop Up Boutique is inside the La Fonda Hotel (August 21 to 24, 9am to 5pm). A Platform 46″ multitouch table with a custom application showing the artist’s work is part of the installation. We’re big fans of Virgil’s work and are so excited to play a small role in this fascinating installation. 

2014 marks the 93 year of the Santa Fe Indian Market bringing together an international community from all walks of life. Over 175,000 people are expected to visit Santa Fe this week for the event.

You can learn more about the Virgil Ortiz Pop Up Boutique and other events on the Virgil Ortiz website or on his Facebook page.


Prototyping + Usability Lab: Our First Month

The new Ideum Prototyping + Usability Lab is now operational! As the name suggests, we use this space to build prototypes and conduct testing. But the space is so much more than than. The lab is also equipped with a media production area, 3D printing and CNC router room, and even a showroom for our multitouch tables. If you missed our announcement about the full capabilities of the Prototyping + Usability Lab in our blog last month, check it out for more details.

We’ve already utilized the space on some exciting new projects, such as building out 55″ UHD 4K and 84″ UHD 4K prototype multitouch tables for the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. We’ve also been building a number of custom displays for the Field Museum. In September, we will be building out two new multitouch tables. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all of these exciting projects.

This month we also conducted usability testing for a variety of Web and mobile projects including our own GestureWorks Gameplay software. Perhaps our most interesting experiment in our new Lab has been our work with tangibles and projected capacitive touch screens. Check out our Dynamic Desktop prototype, which for the first time allows objects to trigger interactions in a non-vision-based system. We have plans to continue work on this experimental software which works with our GestureWorks HCI framework

Here’s a little peek at the Prototyping + Usability Lab in its first month of operation. If you’d like to see more, we have additional photos on Flickr.prototyping-pano560 prototyping-showroom560 prototyping-studio60


The Dynamic Desktop: Experimental Tangible Interfaces for Capacitive Touch Tables

Dynamic Desktop
Projected Capacitive Touch (PCT or P-Cap) is the most popular type of touch technology around. It is the same touch technology found in iPad and iPhones and nearly every Android and Windows 8 phone and tablet to boot.  There are hundreds of millions of PCT screens out there.

When it comes to large scale touch screens (40″ or bigger), it has taken some time for PCT to take hold. The technology has had some issues in scaling up to larger screens. Because of this issue camera-based and optical systems have been around much longer and still dominate the market. (Although, PCT screens are starting to catch up.) Of course, these optical systems have issues of their own, light interference and calibration issues can be troubling and if they are camera-based touch tables or walls, “thin” means several inches thick at a minimum.

Projected capacitive touch doesn’t have any of the issues that optical touch systems have. It works in any lighting environment, calibration is a breeze (if needed at all), and “thin” means thin, just a couple of inches. However, vision-based systems and camera-based systems have always had the ability to recognize objects: fiducials or other tangibles. Over the years, a number of innovative applications using objects on touch tables have been explored.

PCT screens which are not vision-based, historically, haven’t had the ability to support tangibles, until now.  By using conductive materials such as, 3D printed conductive plastics, we have been able to create unique conductive patterns that our GestureWorks software can recognize on standard PCT screens.

It’s still experimental but check out this video and some photos showing how it works. The video shows the system working on a Platform 46 multitouch table with a Presenter 46 mounted on the wall. Both of these systems use 3M projected capacitive touch screens.


 See all the Dynamic Desktop photos on Flickr

There’s still more work to do in improving the fidelity of the system, but as you can see from the video progress has been made. There are challenges still in 3D printing objects with the conductive materials. However, we’ve just added our third 3D printer, so we are actively working on the materials side of things too. We will post some more updates as we continue to improve the system.


State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now

Ideum has partnered with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to navigate their extensive State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now exhibition, running from September 13, 2014 to January 19, 2015.


We are collaborating with Crystal Bridges in the creation of a custom software application that will allow visitors to go beyond the works in the gallery and explore each of the 100 American artists in the State of the Art exhibit in more detail, complete with works that are not on physical display in the museum.  

The exhibit spans a variety of medium, from more traditional painting and sculpture to installation and new media works – the custom application gives viewers the ability to view works of all types in one convenient location.  Users navigate the US map to find artists from all over the country, learn about their motivation, view their studios, and even watch recorded interviews with the artists talking about their work.  Additionally, users can find artwork and artists in their neck of the woods –  by entering a zip code and an email address, they can have a custom list of galleries and museums emailed to them.

We’ve posted some of the work in progress that we’ve done with Crystal Bridges to Ideum’s portfolio on Behance.

Additionally, Ideum has developed two custom multitouch screens to display the custom software, helping visitors investigate further into the incredible lives and artwork of these up-and-coming artists and explore what is happening today in American art.


Ideum created two custom screens, one a 55” Drafting TouchTable and the other a 46” Presenter TouchWall with a custom white color coating, matching the white walls of the pristine gallery setting.

More information about this incredible exhibit to come, as we get closer to the opening date.

For current information on State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, please visit:



Multitouch Table Research Findings

Open Exhibits is a collection of software and growing community, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help change the way informal learning environments, such as museums, change the way they share computer-based exhibits. (Ideum is the principal organization in the Open Exhibits initiative.)There was recently an addition to the Papers section of Open Exhibits that we would like to share.  

Open Exhibits co-PI, Kate Haley Goldman and her colleague Jessica Gonzalez, conducted research at three of our partner museums (Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science) to better understand how visitors interact with multitouch tables.


Open Exhibits software running on multitouch table at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. The Maxwell was one of three museums in which research was conducted. The touch table shown is a (first-generation) Ideum Pro multitouch table.

The research looks at a variety of different aspects concerning visitor interaction including: dwell time, social interaction and a variety of behavioral and verbal indicators. The data suggests that for most visitors the experience is still novel, most visitors (73-82%) to our three partner institutions had not seen a multitouch table before. The stay time was longer for the table, than for any other object found in the gallery spaces. The full report can be found at: OE Multitouch Table Use Findings.

Cross posted from Open Exhibits



GestureWorks Gameplay 2 is now Available!

Our firm is probably best known for museum exhibits and multitouch tables, but we also have a software product called GestureWorks Gameplay. Today, we reached a new milestone as GestureWorks Gameplay Version 2 was released on Steam.

Gameplay is a unique application that allows users to create their own custom interfaces for PC games and applications.  These virtual controllers can then be shared with others through the GestureWorks Gameplay website. There are currently 346 virtual controllers for hundreds of PC games.

Gameplay 2 improves and extends the features in the first version and includes that ability to connect to PC games with an Android phone or tablet. Check out this video which shows Gameplay 2 with Teslagrad (a fantastic Indy game you can learn more about here).

We are proud of the work that we’ve done with Gameplay.  It has drawn on all of our expertise we developed over the years in design, user-interface, usability testing, and programming. We’re also very grateful to have support from great game partners and from Intel who have helped the product along in many ways. There’s more to come in the future, including an OEM deal with a major computer maker (sorry, but we can’t share just yet) and a new version of Gameplay with revolutionary features later this year..



New Lower Pricing on Presenter 55 and 65

With our recent expansion, we’ve been able to increase the number of touch walls that we can build and that has led to lower prices for our Presenter 55 and Presenter 65.

The Presenter 55 and 65 each have the option of either a High Definition (HD) or 4K Ultra High Definition (4K UHD) display. The full HD 1920 x 1080 LED LCD display will display in bright, crisp format.  If you want to take it to the next level, the 4K UHD has four times the resolution with 3840 x 2160 pixels.  The ruggedized, hardened aircraft-grade aluminum frame and protective glass surface makes the Presenter a great solution for any environment, including public spaces.  

The Presenter comes with many options including multiple computer configurations, which can fit seamlessly on the back of the unit. Our touch walls are designed to be hung either vertically or horizontally to match just about any application or use.

After being custom built in our studio, our Presenters are shipped with a 2-year warranty. The same folks that build our high-quality touch walls provide our excellent service and support.   Our Presenter models are particularly popular with Fortune 500 companies, universities, museums and government agencies due to it’s exceptional performance and quality.  

The mounting hardware is included with each Presenter model.  If you need to be able to move the display, you may purchase a motorized stand which can transform the Presenter from a wall display to a drafting style or a flat touch table. The stand comes with wheels that allow it to be easily moved as well.

Contact us today at (505) 792-1110 ext. 1 or toll free in the US and Canada at (855) 898-6824 or if you would like to discuss the Presenter 55 or Presenter 65.  Be sure to ask us about our discounts for multiple purchases or educational discounts we have available.  

Check out our video for the Presenter 65:


Ideum Multitouch Tables Featured KASA TV This Morning

This morning, Paul Lacey, Chief Technical Officer and John-Mark Collins, Producer: Creative Services were invited to visit the set of 2 KASA to showcase some of the exciting projects we have been working on. They brought a Platform 46 touch table to show our most recent work for Coca-Cola for The World Cup in Brazil.  Here are the two video segments from KASA TV.

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