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Jeff Heywood on the "Novelty" and "Honey Pot" effects of multitouch exhibits

Jeff Heywood, Vancouver AquariumJeff Heywood is the Director of Content at Vancouver Aquarium. Having worked as a director in television, he describes himself as a natural storyteller.

Mr. Heywood spoke at the Open Exhibits Summit about a direct study done at the Vancouver Aquarium. Visitors were recorded as they interacted with a multi-touch table exhibit called “Arctic Exploration.”

Mr. Heywood shared the results and the data that formed his goals for an effective table experience:

  • The most fresh and current content
  • Active connections to the subject matter
  • Self-directed interaction with many levels of exploration
  • Exhibit software must allow updates in-house

Jeff Heywood described two effects of incorporating the multi-touch table into the Arctic Explorations exhibit:

  1. – The Novelty Effect: Multi-touch tables are still relatively new technology for many people.
  2. – The Honey Pot Effect: Visitors enjoyed the tables’s hands-on and interactive nature; they controlled the media.

Quote from Jeff Haywood

From these initial effects, Mr. Heywood and his colleagues noted that table interaction is an individual experience — people didn’t talk while using the tables. Mr. Heywood outlined goals for enhancing and broadening the experience:

  • There should be a touch-and-see response
  • The tables should be kid-proof (there was a spill within 10 minutes of opening the exhibit)
  • There should be a place where visitors can unload what they are carrying in order to interact with the tables
  • Video used must be high quality

Using what they learned, Mr. Heywood said, “A combination of both digital and traditional information presentation can therefore greatly enhance visitors’ experience of exhibitions.” Considering these goals, Mr. Heywood added:

“Don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect solution the first time out.” Despite initial problems, kids of all ages still had a great time.”

by View this user's profile on March 11, 2011