by Hugh McDonald, Executive Producer January 27th, 2020
Researchers from Ideum and XPRIZE Foundation recently completed a multi-site study of the way people use an innovative experience on health technologies. Funded by the Qualcomm Foundation, the team traveled to three US science centers to see how museum visitors interacted with and learned from the exhibit, which Ideum and XPRIZE designed and developed in 2018.
The exhibit was funded by XPRIZE after 2017’s Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition, in which teams developed ideas for new kinds of portable medical devices. Running on a custom 65” Ideum Platform multitouch table, the experience contains three related activities. At Scan Yourself, guests use fingertip sensors to track their own heart rate, skin temperature, and skin conductance. Diagnosis pairs two visitors in the role of doctors evaluating a patient’s mysterious symptoms. And Build a Medical Scanner lets visitors design a unique device for a specific medical scenario.
The exhibit is now on view at 5 US science centers, and the research team spent 2 days each at three of them in 2019: The Tech Interactive in San Jose, CA; Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ; and Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA.
Researchers used a carefully designed multi-method protocol to ensure that data were collected the same way at each venue. The procedure included both observational and interview techniques to measure how long visitors used the exhibit and how many activities they participated in, understand their social interactions and emotional responses, assess their accuracy in evaluating the patient in the Diagnosis activity, and determine what they took away from their experiences.
The team found strong evidence of sustained engagement with the exhibit at all three museums. The vast majority of visitors we observed and interviewed spent considerable time playing with the exhibit, used multiple activities, and frequently called friends and family to experiment over and over again. Visitors were particularly struck by the fun and meaningful social interactions they had at the experience, especially at the Diagnosis and Scan Yourself activities. You can read the complete report here or on the Informal Science website.