Magic Fingers Make Interactive Multi-User Museum Displays Fun

Oh no, Grandma, not another museum – dead dusty animals, old rusted machinery, weird oil paintings. Let bygones be bygones. Today?s museums come alive with interactive displays kids and adults can touch, play with, and learn. Prehistoric dinosaurs walk across an ancient landscape, old farm equipment can still bale hay in a virtual field, and artists come alive to explain why and demonstrate how they created a misunderstood masterpiece.

MultiTouch, out of Helsinki, Finland, is one company which makes trips to the museum enjoyable, no matter what your age. Their displays are HD LCDs, that can be stacked to form any size table or wall for a multiuser environment. The software provides unlimited touch points, hand and object recognition on Windows, Linux and OS X. In addition to museums, their products are used in hospitality, research, and retail settings to name a few.

Visitors to the Mob Museum use the MultiTouch augmented reality application
Visitors to the Mob Museum use the MultiTouch augmented reality application 

MultiTouch which provides interactive multiuser displays and software platforms introduced new interactive multitouch display features for museum exhibitions at MuseumExpo, the annual meeting and exhibition for the American Association of Museums (AAM). New features for its MultiTaction Cells include new augmented reality applications; a large-scale MultiTaction Wall that supports an unlimited number of concurrent users, and a Cornerstone Software Development Kit (SDK) that addresses the specific needs of museums and permanent exhibitions.

The company showed an 8-foot-wide and 4-foot-tall interactive wall and a table-integrated MultiTaction 55? display. Several museums already have MultiTouch products.

The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada has their augmented reality application where mobster-printed coasters show their position and connections within their crime families. This National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement opened on Valentine?s Day, Feb. 14, 2012. The date was picked to coincide with the anniversary of the notorious 1929 St. Valentine?s Day Massacre in Chicago. Several members of Bugs Moran?s gang were lined up along the brick wall of a warehouse, shot and killed by Al Capone?s gang.

The Avatar exhibit at Seattle, Washington?s Science Fiction Hall of Fame uses object recognition technology on two 46" LCD multitouch tables that allow visitors to explore hundreds of concept art sketches and renderings used in the making of the movie, Avatar.

An interactive art installation at La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy lets users manipulate original digital pieces of art. Each piece returns to its initial state after a timeout.

Wells Fargo Museum contains gold nuggets used in a Gold Panning game
Wells Fargo Museum contains gold nuggets used in a Gold Panning game

Wells Fargo History Museums in various locations across the United States and India have a Gold Panning game that features, what else but digitalized images of real world gold nuggets.

MultiTaction Cell displays are less than 20 cm deep. They accommodate ultra-fast response time, plus the displays are not sensitive to external lighting. The panels track unlimited touch points, including hands, fingers, fingertips, 2D markers, and real-life objects. MultiTouch panels easily set up as a wall or a table, with a frameless thin bezel design with smooth edge-to-edge front safety glass to protect all those fingers. Computer Vision Through Screen (CVTS) recognizes unlimited number of fingertips, fingers, hands and objects simultaneously.

Several models are available. For example, the MultiTaction Cell 55" is full HD LCD and modular, meaning it is stackable to any size and shape. An entire wall was set up for the Space Shuttle Anniversary where NASA celebrated the first flight of its reusable spacecraft system, STS-1, the Columbia, on April 12, 1981. Visitors can touch the screen and move the shuttles about or open multi media content embedded into each craft. Background videos include high res space travel footage from NASA. An unlimited number of users can open the photos and videos simultaneously.