Open Exhibits - Blog



Major Release: Open Exhibits 3

We are excited to announce the Open Exhibits 3 release which includes a number of significant and exciting improvements to the free and open HCI software framework.

The most fundamental change to the framework is in how Open Exhibits 3 works in 3D space. This improvement not only encompassed how objects are rendered with Away3D, but how motion gestures are analyzed behind the scenes for devices like the Leap Motion Controller.

Away3D Support
With the new Away3D support, three dimensional models may be authored in external programs like Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema4D, and Blender and imported into an Open Exhibits project through simple CML (Creative Markup Language) declarations. One of the exhibits we provide in this release includes a 3D molecule viewer. Please check out our 3D tutorials for interactive display objects to see all of the amazing things you can build quickly.

3D interactions and handling are done in the same manner that 2D interactions are completed, so previous methods of working with interactive display objects (CML) and gesture definition assignments (GML, Gesture Markup Language) have been preserved.  Another feature of 3D support is that any new 2D applications you create will automatically take advantage of the 3D rendering pipeline by representing your 2D objects as textures on 3D objects. This means that your exhibit will benefit from a performance boost, since rendering instructions are completely offloaded to the GPU.

Leap Motion Support
Open Exhibits 3 true 3D gesture recognition support opens up a whole new set of possibilities. With support for an inexpensive device like the Leap Motion Controller, Open Exhibits 3 expands the ways of interacting with exhibits. Along with support for 3D gestures, the framework includes visual feedback indicators that let visitors know where their hands correlate with the interactive display and what types of interactions are possible. Users can see how their hands can grab an object to manipulate it or gesture in mid-air for more information.

Combining the 3D interaction space with the 2D touch surface also opens up new possibilities for multimodal exhibits, where touch and motion can be used together.  The Open Exhibits 3 framework has significantly improved the accuracy and gesture recognition capabilities of the Leap Motion Controller. This makes it easier for developers to author exhibits, more so than by using Leap Motion’s API alone.

New Modules and UI Components
Open Exhibits 3 also contains a new set of very useful software modules. Highlights are: an HTML browser element that allows you to explore the web, Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text through Microsoft SAPI (for accessibility), updated Starling support, touch input recorder, Gesture Visualizer, and much more. Ultimately, we want to provide the Open Exhibits community with the best tools possible to create compelling experiences for visitors. Download Open Exhibits for free today and try it for yourself.

Open Exhibits 3 Features

  • Away3D support
  • CML support for Away3D scene construction
  • Leap Motion integration
  • Touch 3D gesture integration
  • Dozens of 3D motion gestures
  • CML primitive elements are now gesture-ready
  • Gesture Visualizer
  • Touch input recorder utility
  • Text-to-speech and Speech-to-Text through Microsoft SAPI
  • HTML element and viewer (load URL or write inline HTML within CML)
  • Paint element and viewer (export as SVG or PNG)
  • SVG element
  • Open sourced CML
  • Radial Slider
  • More examples
  • New CML state manager and improved internal State Machine
  • 100+ CML Tags
  • Improved CML selector support including DOM and jQuery-like $ selectors
  • State support for RenderKit
  • Enhanced input mode support
    • allow input modes on a per-object basis
    • automatic mouse filtering when mouse and touch events are doubled by OS
  • Load multiple GML files
  • New relative layout system for containers
  • Updated Starling support
  • LoaderMax integration
  • SlideMenu element

Open Exhibits Major Bug Fixes and Feature Requests from the Last Release

  • Object transformation boundary limits in GML
  • Individual object transformation boundary limits
  • Finger count settings for hold and tap in GML
  • Improved TUIO support includes FLOSC, TUIO via TCP, and TUIO via UDP
  • Improved virtual touch object workflow
  • Magnifier performance improved
  • Modest Maps improved

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by Ken Willes View Ken Willes's User Profile on Nov 13, 2013

Open Exhibits & CMME: Accessibility in Interactive Exhibits

Open Exhibits takes another step towards accessibility in the latest release with the addition of the text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities. With the new Open Exhibits 3.0 release, there is an example project that contains an interface to the Microsoft Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI). This technology allows you to create applications that are accessible to visually impaired users:

  • Command your exhibit using voice commands by setting up a vocabulary of recognizable words and phrases.
  • Describe the contents of your applications using text-to-speech synthesis.

This initiative was made possible in part by the Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) project, a collaborative effort of the Museum of Science, the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, Ideum, and Audience Viewpoints. This project furthers the science museum field's understanding of ways to research, develop, and evaluate digital interactives that are inclusive of all people.

Future developments of the Open Exhibits + CMME initiative will make audio accessibility more streamlined within the SDK including:

  • Integration within the UX library.
  • Automatic voice-accessibility mode to more easily incorporate the technology.
  • Built-in navigation system for visually impaired users targeting multiuser, multitouch displays and environments.

View the CMME webpage for more information:

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by Ken Willes View Ken Willes's User Profile on Nov 13, 2013

HCI+ISE Conference Proceedings Available Online

The proceedings of the HCI+ISE conference, held in June, are now available online. You can read the complete document in the Papers section of the Open Exhibits site or on ISSUU. An accessible PDF version is in the works. Special thanks to Catherine McEver of The Bureau of Common Sense for documenting the conference so thoroughly.

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by Nora Galler View Nora Galler's User Profile on Oct 8, 2013

Survey: Connecting In-Gallery Experiences with Online Content Management Systems

Open Exhibits community members:

Ideum (lead organization on Open Exhibits), the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and the UConn Digital Media Center request your participation in a survey about connecting in-gallery experiences with online content management systems.

The survey can be accessed at the link below and will only take 5 minutes to complete:

To thank you for your time, we will gladly share the survey results with participants. Simply provide your e-mail upon completing the questions.

-Open Exhibits Team

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by Nora Galler View Nora Galler's User Profile on Sep 27, 2013

Open Exhibits 3.0 Coming in November

Open Exhibits is pleased to announce an upcoming major release, Open Exhibits 3.0. Over a year in the making, this new release provides full 3D support including 3D motion gestures, compatible with the Leap Motion Controller, and 3D rendering capabilities developed in collaboration with Away3D. Other features include an advanced state machine to facilitate game development, a new Visualizer for gesture debugging, and new open source UX elements. Open Exhibits 3.0 is scheduled to be released on November 12, 2013.

Multimodal, multitouch, 3D gestures...what? The hottest new input hardware devices, such as the Leap Motion Controller, allow for an exciting new form of human computer interaction, motion input. The Open Exhibits Team couldn't wait to get their hands on one. About six months ago we integrated support for the Leap Motion Controller as a 2D alternative to the touch screen. Behind the scenes we were creating a huge library of 3D motion gestures. Fully editable in Gesture Markup Language (GML), these 3D gestures simplify motion development as a natural extension to multitouch. Even better, Open Exhibits 3.0 is multimodal, meaning that all of the these input modes will work at the same time. Use a motion gesture to rotate an object in 3D space with one hand, and tap, swipe, and scroll on the touchscreen with the other.

In addition to 3D motion input, Open Exhibits 3.0 will fully support 3D rendering interaction. Open Exhibits 3.0 simplifies the use of external frameworks, including 3D engines. Open Exhibits has been working with Away3D to create a set of 3D elements that are both touch and motion ready and fully compatible with Creative Markup Language (CML). Rapidly develop applications in AS3 and/or XML without the need to program gestures and 3D transformations.


Aside from 3D support, Open Exhibits 3.0 contains a host of new features and improvements:

  • New state and resource managers automatically reuse and update UX components to facilitate game development and other resource intensive applications.

  • Improved Visualizer allows the debugging of simultaneous multiple input modes and gestures.

  • New UX elements such as the radial slider and page flip add to the already extensive (50+) user interface library.

  • CML asset loading now uses the GreenSock LoaderMax library for more advanced loading options.

  • Simplified CML development allows CML objects to infinitely nest and contain gesture tags without the need for additional containers.


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by Nora Galler View Nora Galler's User Profile on Sep 5, 2013
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