Open Exhibits - Blog



Visitor Use of Multitouch Tables in the Galleries

One of the questions within our research was whether having a table in the galleries impacts the amount of attention and the amount of time spent on other elements.

In each of the galleries we studied, the multitouch table was not the most 'popular' object in the gallery, that was always an element of the collection. For instance, in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, over 86% of the visitors spent time with the Stegomastodon jaw, and roughly 63% used the multitouch table.

The stay time in each of the galleries was longer for the table than any other object in the galleries, averaging about 2 minutes at each site. While we've observed longer stay times at other multitouch tables, those tables tend to have more extensive or directed interactives than the collections-based content on these tables.


Visitor Use of Table

Median Time



Social Behavior


40% (n=12)


25% (n=3)


72.4% (n=21)


66.7% (n=14)


62.5% (n=20)


80% (n=16)

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by Kate Haley Goldman View all posts by Kate Haley Goldman on Jun 7, 2013

New Exhibit Download: Solar System Exhibit

The solar system exhibit is a multitouch interface that allows users to select planets as image hotspots and explore the pop-up windows. Each planet is linked to an informational pop-up that contains a slideshow of images and descriptive text for each planet. Each pop-up can be rotated, scaled, and dragged. Pop-ups are tethered to the planet for easy identification. The exhibit also includes an attract screen.

The exhibit is fully configured in CML to support customization of a number of features. The exhibit can be customized to support your own subject, content, and style by altering the CML and media files. For example, font sizes and colors, background colors, amount of images, and image navigation buttons are all customizable.

Click here to download

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by Jenny Wright View all posts by Jenny Wright on Jun 6, 2013

Human Computer Interaction in Informal Science Education Conference

Next week Ideum along with Independent Exhibitions will host the Human Computer Interaction in Informal Science Education (HCI+ISE) Conference. This first-of-its-kind conference will bring together exhibit designers, developers, researchers, and educators to explore the potential of new HCI technologies in informal educational settings. The conference will have events at Explora!, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Ideum, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

The goals of the conference, as stated in our National Science Foundation proposal, are as follows:

“The goals of the meeting are to advance the current state of knowledge about the complex challenges and opportunities that exhibit designers and developers encounter in technology-based exhibitions and suggest strategies for enabling them to share theoretical and implementation approaches and methods.”

This is what we hope to achieve at the conference, again, from the original proposal:

The HCI+ISE conference will:
1. Examine existing exhibits that use HCI technology;
2. Bring people together with diverse expertise to explore issues in common, and engage in design activities to better identify effective practices for designing HCI science exhibits;
3. Identify conditions under which HCI can be effective for enhancing museum visitor access, participation, and learning;
4. Identify strategies and mechanisms for expanding the application of HCI to exhibit practice, thereby maintaining freshness and nimbleness in exhibition development;
5. Connect to NSF research priorities, and to initiatives and strategic areas, in order to advance and strengthen the interchanges between museum practice, the learning sciences, and public understanding of science; and
6. Create a network of HCI+ISE users, and take steps to improve communication, knowledge access and leadership within and across ISE communities.

More concretely, we have set up a number of small group activities and discussions that will explore the nature of new HCI technologies and their real and potential applications in museums settings.

The conference will culminate in an exploration of future scenarios. In particular, we are having groups look at the visitor experience seven years from now in 2020. We are focusing on a diverse set of institutions, each with a stakeholder as a group facilitator. Groups will create vignettes of visitor interaction at the following institutions: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Explora!, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, SFMOMA, Shedd Aquarium, and London Science Museum.

A digital booklet with findings from the HCI+ISE conference will be released later this summer and will include the future vignettes from each group. In addition, we will have a way for conference attendees and others interested in the future scenario to get these documents (re)emailed to them in June of 2020. This digital time capsule feature will be available on the HCI+ISE site following the conference.

The HCI+ISE Conference is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF DRL #1139752) and sponsored by Intel.  (Cross-posted on Ideum blog)

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by Jim Spadaccini View all posts by Jim Spadaccini on Jun 5, 2013

Comparing stay time and social behavior at multitouch interactives

One potential of the multitouch table that we've been really interested in exploring is whether the table as a format is more social experience for visitors than the same content if it were shown in a multitouch vertical environment, i.e. hanging on a wall. We tested this hypothesis at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science late last year, asking visitors to interact with the devices and comparing their behavior and stay time.

The median time spent at the different devices was similar; however, the range of use time was greater for the Wall. The sample at the Wall also demonstrated a lower minimum and higher maximum use time, i.e. there were a greater ranges of time spent at the Wall.

Participants at the two devices also demonstrated similar behavior. While in this study, there were slightly more social behaviors on the Table over the Wall, independent t-tests found no statistically significant difference between the number of those social behaviors, or in participants’ ratings of how interesting the content on the devices was.

The majority of participants in both samples indicated that they had learned something from using the display. Interestingly, a larger proportion of the Table sample thought there was a main message to the content on the display. However, chi-square tests indicate that there was no difference between wall and table users’ perceptions of a main message or learning (ps>.05).

We believe that the lack of these differences might vary by type of content. The content test here was an open-ended fossil collections-viewing activity. A game, time-line or map-based interactive may or may not produce the same results, we hope to continue testing different forms of content.

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by Kate Haley Goldman View all posts by Kate Haley Goldman on Jun 5, 2013

How familiar are multitouch tables to visitors?

How often do visitors use multitouch tables? While Ideum and others have been producing multitouch tables since 2008-2009, data collection for Open Exhibits research suggests that the tables are still novel to most museum visitors. During interviews from the late fall of 2012 in Albuquerque, most visitors had not seen a multitouch table previously.

Percentage seeing their first table:

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center 73.3%

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology 82.8%

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science 81.3%

These rates are similar to other first-use rates at small-to-medium sized museums in small to medium population areas. The team is currently looking for comparative rates for first-time use in major metropolitan areas.

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by Kate Haley Goldman View all posts by Kate Haley Goldman on Jun 3, 2013
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