Experimental Applications


Flickr-Based Multitouch & Multiuser Collection Viewer

Our Open Exhibits educational software initiative recently released a new multitouch and multiuser Collection Viewer allowing visitors to browse large museum collections.  The software pulls images and their descriptions directly from “sets” in Flickr, making the collections easy to manage.

The software has customizable “docks” that allow it to be optimized for touch wall or multitouch table displays.  The software is free for educational use. The video below shows how the software works.

The example we developed pulls images from the Women in Science Flickr set posted by the Smithsonian. Open Exhibits is supported by the National Science Foundation.


‘Ghosts in Armour’ at Santa Fe Complex

A new installation at Santa Fe Complex uses one of our multitouch tables along with three projectors to create an interactive and immersive space. The installation, Ghosts in Armour, is described as “a multi-disciplinary artistic exploration into the emerging post-industrial landscapes of Europe’s declining steel industry, documenting and contextualizing the losses currently shaping a number of communities.”

The multitouch table is used to show many of the spaces that Ghosts in Armour has documented. The table uses Open Exhibits software. The exhibit software is based-on a free Open Exhibits template, NSF in Antartica. The video below shows the Ghosts in Armour installation at Santa Fe Complex.

You can learn more about Ghosts in Armour on the SF_X website. The exhibition runs from until June 1st.


Welcome to Ideum Labs

Ideum Labs title imageIf you’ve read Ideum Blog and you’ve been keeping up with GestureWorks and Open Exhibits, you know that we’re fast moving and productive group. The unfortunate thing about being this productive is that we often don’t get the chance to share all the cool ideas, experiments, and discoveries we’ve made along the way.

Enter Ideum Labs, our new Tumblr blog. Labs was conceived as a high output, low production value home for Ideum and GestureWorks Staff to share raw ideas, UX experiments, project snippets, random acts of science, and interesting HCI + multitouch news.

What have we shared thus far? How about wood-paneled multitouch tables, unpainted touch walls, multitouch solitaire (a la Windows XP), Windows 8 beta, and multitouch Van Gogh.

Learn more about Ideum Labs at Multitouch-Labs.tumblr.com, or read all the Labs posts on the Ideum facebook page.


The Tech Test Zone Opening and Gigapixel Kinect Exhibit

Last week I spoke at The Tech Museum’s Interfaces for the New Decade Conference and Gallery Opening. It was a great opportunity to meet and connect with folks from many of the Bay Area museums (and local companies) who share the same interest in new HCI (Human Computer Interaction) technologies. Along with the day-long conference there was an evening Gallery opening which unveiled The Tech Test Zone exhibit.

At the opening party we demoed Heist, our experimental project that allows digital objects to be shared from a multitouch table to visitor’s smart phones and tablets. We brought a MT55 Platform multitouch table for the demo and conference.Heist! At The Tech Museum
While Heist is not part of the permanent exhibit our Open Exhibit’s Kinect and Gigapixel Viewer software is. Visitors to the Test Zone can use gestures to navigate an amazing gigapixel image of Yosemite taken by xRez Studio. This Open Exhibits software exhibit is among the first installations in our year-old National Science Foundation sponsored project.  (You can join Open Exhibits for free.)Gigapixel Kinect Exhibit at The Tech Museum
CNET News has pictures of all of the exhibits including our and their Website, see Future tech exhibit plugs museum interactivity.


Open Exhibits, Year Two

Our Open Exhibits multitouch software initiative has just completed its first year. Last year, we received funding from the National Science Foundation and we launched our full community site last November. We’ve learned a lot in year one and we are gearing up for an exciting second year.

If you haven’t been following developments on the Open Exhibits site, here’s an update:

The Heist project was announced today. Heist is an experimental project that uses Open Exhibits and GestureWorks software and is powered by Sensus server technology to enable effortless networking. It allows museum visitors to “steal” digital objects; easily placing them on their smart phones or tablets.

Heist: reviewing files on an iPad

The system uses a captive WiFi portal to push an HTML5 app to visitors so there is no need to download an iOS or Android app. The visitor just connects to WiFi and opens their browser. We are planning a testbed with ten museums this winter.  Learn more and check out a video of Heist.

Open Exhibits is on the road in October and November. There are presentations and workshops planned on both coasts and in Europe. We’ll be at Association of Science- Technology Center’s (ASTC) annual conference in Baltimore, the British Museum in London, and at The Tech Museum in San Jose. We will have one of our MT55 Platform Multitouch Tables at the British Museum if you want to check it out.

Work has begun on a new version of our most downloaded software module, the multitouch-enabled Collection Viewer. We’ve posted preliminary designs and have explained the new features that will become available in the new version.

Collection Viewer UI

Open Exhibits surpassed 10,000 software downloads last month and our community now has over 1,700 members. If you haven’t already done so, please join us. We are looking forward to an eventful second year.


Tune Grid Multitouch Audio Sequencer – Now Playing

Tune Grid is a 16-step multitouch audio sequencer built with GestureWorks. It allows multiple users to create harmonic rhythms, or play sequences of notes using multitouch input. We originally conceived of the idea with our friends at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, after seeing Andre Michelle’s ToneMatrix web application.

Tune Grid now comes standard on every Ideum multitouch table. It’s a fun multi-user sound application that does a great job showing off the integrated Bose audio system found in the MT55 Pro. Below is a video showing Tune Grid in action on the MT55 Pro multitouch table. We’d love to hear your feedback.


SENSUS and Open Exhibits – Easy Sharing Between Tables, Tablets & Phones

This video demonstrates the results of a recent collaboration between SENSUS and our own Open Exhibits software initiative.  The concept is simple: make networking and sharing transparent across multitouch devices and operating systems. The demo video shows an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy), a Multitouch Table (our own, new MT55), a Windows 7 multitouch kiosk, and an iPod–all sharing media items (images, video, and a Google Map) effortlessly.  This easy sharing is made possible with Konnectus software which is a new cloud-computing platform developed by SENSUS.

The  Konnectus software and the Open Exhibits modules will be available later this summer. And, Yes! These “network friendly” software modules will also work with our GestureWorks multitouch framework.

Here’s a bit more about Konnectus and our partners at SENSUS…

KonnectUs is a new cloud-computing software platform by SENSUS designed to make sophisticated networking functions easy and intuitive for users across a range of devices including multitouch tables, desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. KonnectUs “Natural Networking Technology (NNT)” empowers users to connect seamlessly across all major platforms – from Windows to Android to iOS. The new software aims to deliver a desktop user experience for key cloud-based services such as file sharing, social networking and location-relevant distribution of content. Additionally, KonnectUs APIs allow developers the opportunity to leverage the power of SENSUS networking technology through integration into third party applications.

You can read the full-press release on the SENSUS Website.


Building a High-Resolution Multitouch Wall (Part 2)

For the latest installment see: Building a High-Resolution Multitouch Wall (Part 3), and Building a High-Resolution Multitouch Wall (Part 4) (Update 9/7/12: You might want checkout the Presenter Touch Wall, a 65″ multitouch wall built for public spaces.)

Back in November, I first blogged about building a 7-foot, round, high-resolution multitouch wall. At that point in the process we had just received the large ring and built the computer system. Now, we have installed the glass and have built out the rigging for the cameras and projectors.
7 Foot Multitouch Wall with Glass Installed
The glass is haptic: it has a texture, doesn’t show fingerprints, and still displays the image beautifully. We purchased the glass from a company called Sevasa. They make an acid-etched architectural glass that has a great feel to it. The tempered glass is 10mm thick.

Due to the size of the glass, we are not adhering the project material directly on to the glass, but rather we have a piece of acrylic with projection material that will go directly behind the glass. We have already done projection test and the combination works great. (I will post more about that once we put the acrylic in place.)

Behind the 7-foot ring, we have built a rigging frame out of Bosch aluminum. The rigging holds the four IR (infrared) cameras in place. It will also hold the projectors in place.
Camera Mount for the Multitouch Wall
We will be using an IR method called Laser Light Plane (LLP) illumination. The system will have four cameras that will gather the tracking information. The exhibit will be installed in early summer, it is being built for a major North American aquarium. We will post another update on this project in the next week or two.

To see the previous step in the process check out: Building a High-Resolution Multitouch Wall Part 1.


Easy and Cheap Authoring for the Microsoft Kinect with Open Exhibits

Our module for Kinect provides a simple solution for authoring gesture-based applications in Flash. Lately, we’ve been using it in conjunction with our other free Open Exhibits software modules. While the Kinect device itself doesn’t have the necessary precision for use with every module, we have successfully paired it with our gigapixel image viewer, our new VR Panoramic image viewer, and with our Google Maps module.

Our free Kinect module works with Community Core Vision (CCV) software, an open source software package for computer vision. We’ve used this software in the past with various multitouch tables and other installations. Our Kinect module is a “directshow” source filter, a virtualized webcam device that reads data from the drivers released by OpenKinect.

Here’s a video showing the Kinect module working with other Open Exhibits software.

The Kinect module and the others are all free and open on the Open Exhibits website. The Open Exhibits core software is free for students, educators, nonprofits, and museums. (Commercial users can download a free GestureWorks trial.)  Add a $150 Kinect 3D Motion Controller to our software and you have a very cheap and flexible authoring solution.

There are photographs of the Kinect and Open Exhibits modules on the OE Flickr site.

Kinect Google Maps Viewer

This article is cross-posted on the Open Exhibits Website.In the video, the gigapixel image of El Capitán that appeared in the example was provided by xRez Studio. The cubic VR image of Chichen Itza was taken by Ideum back in 2005 and is part of the Traditions of the Sun project.


Field Study on Multitouch Tables at Vancouver Aquarium

Over on the Open Exhibits website, Jeff Heywood of Vancouver Aquarium has just shared a comprehensive field study on two multitouch tables in the Canada’s Arctic gallery space. The study was developed by The InnoVis Group, Interactions Lab at the University of Calgary.

Vancouver Aquarium Arctic Canada Gallery

We built the tables and worked with Vancouver Aquarium back in the summer of 2009 to create the software. The report looks at the “general experience of the digital tables”, including the form factor, and then it takes a closer look at the applications.

The study shows, as Jeff points out in his post, that “not everything was a success with the tables, but they are, overall, successful.”  Considering the emergent nature of these types of exhibits, we were pleased to see that the study was generally very positive.

Still, some things didn’t work as well we would have liked. There were significant usability issues with the early version of the Collection Viewer.  I’m happy to report that many of the issues cited in the report have been fixed in the newer version of the Collection Viewer that is available on the Open Exhibits site.  We built in the ability to easily change some of the design parameters via XML. For example, button size and spacing can be modified by changing the XML. In addition, we remapped many of the gestures, so that the Collection Viewer objects respond better to visitor interaction. Still, some issues remain and we’ll be taking a closer look at this report and making additional changes.

Studies like this are incredibly valuable (and far too rare in the field).  As designers and developers, we can only learn so much through testing and observation in the studio.  The museum (or aquarium) setting and the sheer number and range of different visitors provides us with a new picture of the exhibit.  You can download and read the full report on the Open Exhibits website, Interactive Tables at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Page 2 of 41234