Computer Exhibits in Museums Survey and Open API

We’ve been mighty busy around here with the Open Exhibits initial software release and site relaunch just around the corner (coming November 15), but we have found time for other important and related work.

We’ve just posted a call for participation in our third annual Computer-Based Exhibits in Museum Survey on the Open Exhibits Website.  We’ve managed to have over 250 respondents to the last two surveys, representing hundreds of museums all over the world. You can see the previous survey results on the Open Exhibits website. We plan to release the survey results in early December. Those who complete the survey will be able to see the results first.

Also, earlier in the week, we released an alpha build of Open API, a program that allows developers to create a public API of a collection or any other MySQL database. This is not to be confused with the larger release of Open Exhibits core in November, which is a multitouch-enabled Flash and Flex-based software (Open API is built using Ruby), but we do plan on releasing other types of software modules that can help museums develop computer-based exhibits. At the moment, only a handful of museums have open APIs for their collections.

You can read the full post on Open API on the Open Exhibits blog.


Know A Good Flash Programmer?

Update: 5/9/14: Our Jobs page shows the current positions available at Ideum.

We’re hiring! Ideally we’re looking for someone with Flash/Flex experience who’s knowledgable and curious about art, science and history. Some graphic design or media production chops don’t hurt either, and non-profit or museum experience would be an added bonus. Still, we’re flexible and mainly looking for a good developer that works well in a team environment and doesn’t mind a fast-paced and rapidly changing workflow. Position includes benefits and the occasional awesome snack.

Check out the full job description on Craigslist.

Update September 21, 2010: We’ve posted the same position to Ars Technica and we’ve a new Programmer / Developer position to Craigslist.



First Multitouch Flash Website!

[kml_flashembed publishmethod="static" fversion="10.0.0" movie="" width="550" height="309" targetclass="flashmovie"]

Get Adobe Flash player


We’ve embedded multitouch Flash applications into the GestureWorks site, making it (as far as we know) the first site to incorporate Flash multiouch! Many of the tutorial pages now feature their own multitouch examples that allow you to manipulate example objects on the page with zoom, rotate, flick and more.

If you don’t have multitouch enabled, the GestureWorks simulator still allows you to manipulate the objects using multitouch. Just shift-click to set additional touch points. The turtle above, an example SWF from our Away 3D tutorial, can be rotated in three-dimensional space by setting two static touch points using shift-click and then moving the mouse while pressing down. Try it for yourself.


Multitouch Tutorials Abound

. . . on the GestureWorks site. Today, we’ve posted a tutorial on how to make a multitouch twitter application in Flash. Not your cup of tea? Maybe you’d like to make a multitouch Google Maps/flickr mashup or just learn the basics on how to create multitouch applications in Flash & Flex.

Our tutorials have been some of the most visited pages on the GestureWorks support site and and we’re looking to expand the list even further. We’d love to hear suggestions on what kinds of tutorials you’d like to see on the site. Tweet us @gestureworks or comment on this post.


Just How Many Points Can the New 3M 22" Multitouch Screen Handle?

There are many devices that claim to be multitouch, but only a few that can actually handle more than two points. Which is why we were anxiously awaiting our 20-point capacitive multitouch screen from 3M.

3M claims a >6 millisecond response time for all 20 fingers. Minus a millisecond stopwatch, we can vouch that the screen is highly responsive. Not to mention, we were able to get the screen to track 50 (yes, that’s five-oh) touch points within a GestureWorks-built app. And all of the apps that we originally built for our 50″ MT-50 Multitouch Table looked great on the high-resolution screen. It’s good to have true multitouch.


Multitouch Google Maps Tutorial Up on GestureWorks Site

Google Map w/ GW icon

We’ve added another tutorial to the GestureWorks site that covers how to build a multitouch Google Map application from start to finish. One of the more complex tutorials, it extends the Google Maps API, allowing the user to scale, rotate and “fly to” specific areas. The tutorial also describes how to use our 3-D tilt gestures take advantage of Google Maps’ 3-D features, and how to set map properties within the application.

We’ve built a few of these applications for clients, and look forward to seeing other variations on the Google Maps application as multitouch becomes more and more common. Next week our developer showcase launches. If you’ve built an app using GestureWorks and want it to be considered for the showcase, contact us.


Multitouch Hardware – A List of Supported Devices

2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for multitouch enabled screens, all-in-one PCs, laptops, and tablets.  It seems like every week there is a new device.

With the release of our GestureWorks multitouch framework for Adobe Flash, we’ve had to try and keep track of this expanding list of devices, all of which are compatible with our GestureWorks software (with Windows 7). While many of these devices are dual-touch (only supporting two points of touch), we are seeing more true multitouch devices such as 3M’s 22″ screen.

You can check out our list of available multitouch hardware on the GestureWorks website. We’ve included basic information like the type of device, number of points supported, and links to the manufacturer’s websites. We will be continuing to update this list as we learn about new multitouch hardware.


Ideum Portfolio Redesign: WordPress, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube Integration

We’ve just launched a redesign of our portfolio site and blog. The site aggregates content from our Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube sites, embedding it in our new website.  For now, we’ve added simple links to our Facebook and Linked In pages. We may expand our integration with these sites in the future. Along with extending our reach into these social networking platforms, the site is easier to maintain and update.

Ideum web design

The site is powered by WordPress. While this is hardly revolutionary, having WordPress work as our de facto content management system gives us a flexible platform for our Web presence. Our portfolio and products are custom “pages” in WordPress. The WordPress plug-ins Tweet Blender and Flickr Feed Gallery display tweets and photo thumbnails on the front page.

The portfolio itself contains descriptions for 14 projects. We’ve gone with a new editorial style for presenting project descriptions along with an improved layout. Each project description contains links to either YouTube videos or Flickr photos (or screen shots). We use Adobe Flash to integrate these media items into each portfolio piece. “Custom fields” in WordPress are used as hooks to connect to remote content and control the layout.

Five of the descriptions in the portfolio are for new projects we’ve worked on this fall and winter. These projects all involve either multitouch and/or multiuser technology. The new projects are:

The redesign of the portfolio site is our 4th since the company was founded in late 1999. Here ‘s a look back on some of the earlier designs.


Multitouch Programmer / Developer 1 Position

We’ve just posted a position for a Multitouch Programmer Developer 1 on craigslist.

From the job posting… “We seek a programmer with demonstrated experience and other complimentary skills to join our rapidly growing team. We will train you in Flash ActionScript and in the use of GestureWorks our Flash multitouch SDK. Along with developing GestureWorks, we create custom multitouch applications and we sell our own multitouch tables.”

You can read the full description and apply via Craigslist.


The Wii and Flash as a Possible Exhibit Platform

Since the release of the Wii gaming system developers have been experimenting in connecting game controllers with other computer systems. Our recent entry into multitouch, has deepened our interest in all forms of physical computing. So, we decided to take a quick look ourselves to see what possibilities Wii Remote controllers and Adobe Flash might provide for exhibit development.

As a quick proof of concept, we downloaded the WiiFlash Server for Mac and took a look at some the examples provided on the WiiFlash site

In no time, Jonathan here at the studio had some examples working with the Wii controller and the Wii balance board. The controller examples took advantage of the motion sensing built into the device. (You can learn more about how the Wii works at the NY Times website. ) As you move the Wii controller a 3D-image of plane rotates and moves in unison on the screen.

We also tried out DarwiinRemote which turns the Wii infrared sensors into mouse coordinates. Both this application and the WiiFlash server connect via a bluetooth device in your computer. Any mouse or keyboard action can be mapped to the Wiimote buttons.

We also came across examples that use the controller as “receiver” with LEDs are used as input devices. A good example of this application is WiiSpray

Securing the Wii controller in a museum environment is a major concern, as is power to the controller. Still, one could imagine providing constant power through some sort of tether that might simultaneously secure the device.

The Wii balance board shows a lot promise for museum exhibits. It provides a simple way to measure a visitor’s weight and get that data into the computer. One could easily picture a “your weight on other worlds” exhibit (see a simple online version at the Exploratorium). The board and Flash can also be used to detect the weight of each quadrant along with the total weight being registered on the board.  Side-to-side and front-and-back movement can be detected via the four quadrants along Flash to detect shifts in weight.

The Wii Balance Board.

weight of quadrants
The output in WiiFlash displaying weight from the different quadrants.

Measuring weight

The WiiFlash demo showing the total weight in Kilograms.

One limitation is the WiiFlash server cannot read the current battery power of the board. However, in a museum exhibit you’d need to wire direct power to battery area anyway. You’d also need to find a way to secure the board. The only major limitation to using the Wii balance board in a museum environment is that it needs to detect the blue tooth connection with the computer on start-up.  This requires pressing a button on the bottom of the board when the computer boots. So, constant power would be necessary. Of course, this not a very “green” option.

We’ll post more about the Wii and Flash as a potential exhibit development platform as we continue to experiment.

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