Visitors explore the electromagnetic spectrum on a custom 100" touch table
A multitouch, multiuser exhibit at Adventure Science Center (Nashville, TN) and Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
The electromagnetic spectrum has always been a tough topic to make accessible to museum visitors. After all, only a small sliver of the EM spectrum can be seen with our eyes. We combined sophisticated photography with multitouch technology to create a unique touchtable exhibit that allowed visitors to move objects through the EM spectrum and view them as they appear in wavelengths imperceptible to human vision.
For this exhibit we designed and built a high-resolution, ultra-wide format multitouch table. The table has a 100" surface and an 86" viewable area. The exhibit software presents a digital representation of the EM spectrum from radio waves to gamma rays. The images change in real time as they are moved, allowing visitors to see how the object can be perceived differently in each wavelength of the EM spectrum.
The table includes both celestial images (mostly from NASA) and terrestrial images that we photographed for the exhibit. Dozens of images are included. Contextual information about each object can be accessed. The large contiguous surface allows several people to interact with the program simultaneously. The application provides a true multiuser, social experience.
The 100" table is built with durable, industrial-quality materials, perfect for a busy hands-on science center. In addition, the table is only 31" tall, meeting ADA standards for wheelchair accessibility. Bright blue LED lights appear along the bottom of the table providing "ground effects," which make the table appear to float in the exhibition space.
The custom software was developed with Ideum's own GestureWorks framework, which allows developers to easily develop their own custom multitouch applications. The EM spectrum software has an XML structure, making the all the content extensible and editable. Text information, images, and even the application's parameters can be easily changed.
The EM Spectrum exhibit is part of the 2009 expansion of the Sky and Space Gallery at Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tennessee. A description of this exhibit appeared in the popular Engadget blog in October of 2009. The exhibit won an AAM MUSE Award in 2010. In 2012, this exhibit was renewed and redeveloped with a Pano 100" multitouch table for the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. It is part of MSI's Science Storms gallery space.