Open Exhibits is a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored initiative that looks to transform the way in which museums and other informal learning institutions produce and share computer-based exhibits. Open Exhibits is both a collection of software and a growing community of practice.
Open Exhibits focuses on the development of new Human Computer Interaction (HCI) exhibits that hold the promise of creating visitor experiences that are more physical and encourage greater social interaction. Our software collection includes multitouch software modules and templates that act as building blocks for creating new exhibits. The software can be used in a variety of ways to build exciting multitouch and multiuser exhibits. In addition, motion recognition software in the form of a free Kinect utility is also available on Open Exhibits.
Along with a collection of software modules, Open Exhibits has its own powerful multitouch framework for ActionScript. The Open Exhibits 2.0 SDK is available free to museums, students, schools, nonprofits, and U.S. government agencies. Commercial users can purchase GestureWorks to gain free access to all of the software modules. Modules can be freely used and modified by both commercial and non-commercial users.
The Community of Practice
Along with making software available to the community, the Open Exhibits site is a place to learn more about emerging technologies and effective practices in exhibit development. The Blog and Research sections of the site highlight projects created with Open Exhibits, point to papers and research, highlight new technologies, and show off DIY hardware projects. We encourage our members to contribute in these areas and others.
The Wanted Board is a new interactive feature that looks to connect the needs of the community with potential programmers, designers, writers, and researchers. Items posted to the Wanted Board may also have a modest monetary bounty placed on them by either the Open Exhibits project itself, or by our partner The Tech Open Source initiative from the Tech Museum of Innovation.
Open Exhibits is operated by Ideum, a software and hardware firm with deep roots in the informal education field. We work with a number of partners and advisors on Open Exhibits. Feel free to contact us if you comments or questions about the project.
Open Exhibits received funding in September of 2010. The first community-based Website launched just two months later in mid-November of 2010. Since then the site has grown with thousands of members and tens of thousands of software downloads. In March of 2011, Open Exhibits held a Design Summit exploring multitouch and motion-recognition technologies and the exhibit design challenges that these new technologies present.
In March 2012 we completely redesigned the website
and we added the Wanted Board feature. We also released a new version of the Open Exhibits SDK. Later this year, we will be releasing a new advanced Collection Viewer and other new software modules.
Stay tuned, there is much more to come.
- The Open Exhibits Team