Our Partner:

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Type of Company:

Independent non-profit

HQ:

Portland, OR

Key Date:

Q1 2015

Uncorked partnered with two science leaders, Portland’s OMSI and Phoenix’s Arizona Science Center, to solve a problem facing most museums: how a visitor’s experience typically ends when they leave the building.

To do this, we created a system to enhance their museum experience in a way that is relevant to visitors whether they’re in the museum, at home, or on-the-move.

The Current Science kiosk was built in partnership with our client Trapit. Their unique product is able to deliver content from the web on extremely specific topics. In the case of museums, this meant finding and curating the best and most up-to-date information on exhibits. People could find and explore the most relevant content on topics ranging from paleontology to the physics of space.

Curating the best content is a huge part of Current Science, though is just the beginning for creating an experience that museum visitors can enjoy. Our team designed an intuitive, touch-based system that helped users go deeper on topics they are interested in, as well as discover connected topics that may otherwise go unnoticed. Visitors could add specific articles, images, and videos to their reading list. And, by simply entering their email address, they could receive an email with links to their material.

The result is a platform that starts at the museum, though extends beyond a simple visit. Current Science was built from the ground up to deliver on one of the core goals of most museums: to inspire curiosity.

It’s also a platform that has potential outside museums. We built Current Science to be repeatable and adaptable for different needs and contexts. The underlying framework is an Uncorked Original and is licensable for similar projects, as well as brand new applications.

Context is Everything

Bringing Science Home

INSIGHT

Museum visitors want to keep learning after they leave the museum.

In order to deliver the best extension of a museum experience, we had to understand the current experience and motivations of museum visitors and staff. In talking with both, we realized there was an opportunity to build an experience on-site to specifically deliver further experiences outside the museums. And while our partnership for Current Science began with two initial installations, we needed to build a system that could extend to further applications both at OMSI and the Arizona Science Center.

The challenge is readily apparent — museum visitors want the most relevant content both in the museum and beyond. Museum staff; however, have limitations for how much time they can devote to finding, curating, and delivering that content. Further, we wanted Current Science to augment the museum experience without becoming the museum experience.

Our answer was to focus on an efficient in-person kiosk that allowed visitors to save links and content for later. This core principle — taking it with you — became a focal point for everything else on the project, from visual design to development frameworks to hardware choices.

Context is Everything

Designed for Every Guest

Current Science presented quite a few design challenges and requirements. The in-museum experience needed to be intuitive and efficient for a range of potential visitors. The content was as variable as the web: images were different sizes, articles were different lengths, and categories and contexts could change.

We took each of these challenges to heart in our design process, though payed particular attention to ensuring all museum visitors could use the Current Science Kiosk. Everything from color palette to interface elements carefully considered accessibility. While our team used the full range of display that these large installations provided, we focused core functionality in areas that were easily accessed for any museum visitor.

The kiosk blends familiar patterns with design choices made for the context. With the ubiquity of touchscreens, interaction patterns such as scrolling up and down come with expectations. Our team worked within the technical realities of an IR-based touch system to create designs that seemed familiar and effortless to visitors.

SKILLS


Information Architecture


Native Application Development


APIs and Auth


 


Interaction Design


Environment Design and Digital Installation


Context is Everything

Developing a Custom Touch Screen

Spencer Williams

Our team worked to build an experience that mimicked the gestures and responsiveness found on iPads and Android tablets, but had the precision of a desktop computer with a mouse input. We used a Planar touchscreen equipped with IR sensors, so the screen itself wasn’t detecting touch, but rather the proximity of touch. This meant that traditional swipes, gestures, and multi-touch controls had to be custom developed given the hardware constraints. We spent a considerable amount of time adjusting the physics of the animations to correspond to touch input, including easing in and easing out—and the springiness associated with modern touch operating systems and content platforms, such as Pinterest.

We also designed the system to function in a variety of use cases. As OMSI placed our displays in the lobby for their guests, they quickly realized that a similar touch screen in their theory restaurant and lounge could display nutrition data tied to their menu. Our application allowed for OMSI to quickly set up a machine and select which source of TrapIt would provide the content. Overall, our product used TrapIt’s API within an entirely new framework, one which we hope will be used in many more ways.

SUCCESSES


Deployed in a high-traffic public space


Integration between multiple third-party vendors


Created a system that is extensible and deployable across multiple locations