Case Study: Museum
The Field Museum (USA)
Location: Chicago, IL
Challenge: Creating an interactive experience for visitors with the Museum's exhibition, “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World”
Solution: 46” NEC MultiSync LCD4620
Date: November 2007
For its late 2007 temporary exhibition, “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World,” Field Museum administrators wanted to illustrate the history of mapmaking over the last 3000 years, including today's digital possibilities. Five years in the making, the exhibition featured rare and historic maps from 68 lenders in 11 countries, that spanned centuries and levels of sophistication-from clay tablets and sea charts to the latest navigation systems. The exhibition was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see more than 130 of the world's greatest maps, including those from ancient Rome and ancient Babylon, cartographers Leonardo da Vinci and Mercator, as well as the great libraries of the world, including the Vatican Library and the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. These famous maps are juxtaposed with modern ones, including in-car navigation and handheld systems powered by NAVTEQ.
“As with all new exhibitions, we wanted to create an interactive with fun elements so that it differentiates itself from others,” said Todd Tubutis, senior project manager for exhibitions at the Field Museum. “We wanted a high-tech touchscreen display specifically for this exhibition, and that is where Accenture stepped in.”
The Museum’s challenge of employing interactive displays would be having multiple visitors simultaneously use them. The idea was for multiple displays to be connected in a tiled setup with touch capabilities integrated into the screens. This challengeled NAVTEQ to select Accenture as the solution provider for the interactive element, which took on the task of developing a touchscreen solution that would meet all of the Museum's requirements. Next, NAVTEQ needed to find a display that supported high resolution, crisp colors and the touch requirements set out by Accenture.
“Essentially, a camera in each upper corner of the top screens is aimed along the surface of the screens,” said Kelly Dempski, director of HCI research for Accenture Technology Labs. “These two cameras can see fingers as they touch the screen and use triangulation to find the actual position.”
The infrared lights make the finger more apparent without adding extra visible light to the installation. Because the solution scales to very large screens, it doesn't require any sort of overlay on the displays themselves. The result lets multiple users interact with the wayfinding content on the six NEC displays.
“The solution allows the visitors to enjoy the exhibition by investigating the maps, pointing things out to each other and generally exploring more naturally and fluidly than they could on a single user kiosk,” said Dempski.
“Our collective effort with NAVTEQ, Accenture and other partners gives museum visitors the opportunity to interact with digital maps and witness firsthand their growing influence on our lives,” said Pierre Richer, executive vice president of NEC. “Seeing both old and new map technology side-by-side in this historic exhibit provides a compelling learning experience.”
The exhibition's combination of both digital and historical maps has brought an awe-inspiring reaction to all of its visitors. The element of interactivity provided by NEC's large-screen displays has complemented the museum officials' vision of this remarkable and rare exhibition beyond their expectations.
“We're grateful to partners such as NEC Display Solutions for lending the technology expertise needed to bring modern-day mapping to life in this exhibition,” said Tubutis. “The success of this exhibition is great, and the reaction we have received from visitors says it all.”