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Chicago Maps Exhibit Raises the Bar for Interactive Signage

Jun 24, 2008 12:00 PM, By John W. DeWitt


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For the maps exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum, Accenture developed an innovative application using infrared lights and cameras to triangulate the position of multiple visitors' fingers as they touched a video wall of six 46in. NEC LCDs.

For the maps exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum, Accenture developed an innovative application using infrared lights and cameras to triangulate the position of multiple visitors' fingers as they touched a video wall of six 46in. NEC LCDs.

A recent exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago took digital signage to new levels of sophisticated interactivity with Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, a three-month exhibit running from November 2007 through January 2008. Combining the latest navigation software and interactive digital signage technology with 3,000 years of maps, the museum and its exhibit partners explored cartography through the ages, cleverly portraying not only how far navigation has come, but also what the future holds in store. The interactive application highlight: using infrared lights and cameras to triangulate the position of multiple visitors’ fingers as they touched a video wall of six 46in. NEC LCDs.

Field Museum administrators wanted to illustrate the history of mapmaking over the last 3,000 years, including today’s digital possibilities. Five years in the making, the exhibition featured more than 130 of the world’s rarest and most historic maps from 68 lenders in 11 countries. These famous maps are juxtaposed with modern ones, including in-car navigation and handheld systems powered by Navteq.

The Field Museum exhibit planners, who often seek audio/visual solutions to enliven museum projects, wanted to introduce the element of interaction to this exhibition and add a new and current dimension to its content. A key section of the exhibit focused on the emerging phenomenon of digital maps—from those aiding military operations to everyday maps, such as ones providing tourism and real-estate information. To assist in their efforts, they collaborated with digital map company Navteq, a presenting sponsor of the event, along with systems integrator Accenture and screen provider NEC Display Solutions.

“We wanted to create an interactive [exhibit] with fun elements so that it differentiates itself from others,” says Todd Tubutis, senior project manager for exhibitions at The Field Museum. “We wanted a high-tech touchscreen display specifically for this exhibition.”



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