“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Linus Pauling
The projects shown here are those that broke new ground, for us as planners and designers and for our clients as leaders in the field. No two projects, or clients, are alike. Innovative thinking is what they have in common.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The innovation underlying Expedition Health, recipient of ASTC’s 2010 Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience, is a pervasively personalized experience in which visitors come away feeling that the exhibition is not just about “health,” but is about them, personally. This important difference is fundamental to communicating one of the top-level messages of the exhibition—that each of us can optimize our own health.
At the entry to Expedition Health, visitors receive a Peak Pass card that enables them to access exhibit components at which anatomical measurements, performance data, images and video are logged into a central database. All data collected is also securely available online at the Expedition Health web site.
Signing in, you enter your name, age and sex, and then select a buddy—a virtual learning companion who accompanies you through the exhibition, providing insights and adding a personal touch to the experience. Prototype testing of the “buddy” concept proved it to be both very engaging and a highly effective way to interpret key science content.
The Wind Chill component exemplifies how multiple levels of personalization are seamlessly integrated into highly interactive components. You position your hand inside a chamber, exposed to a stream of chilled air only on one side. Remote temperature sensors get real-time readings on the side of your hand in the wind, as well the side out of the wind, with the two readings graphed onscreen every 3 seconds. This reveals that the side exposed to the wind quickly becomes much colder than the other side. While graphing progresses, your buddy appears on screen to pass along what they learned in their training about the biological basis of wind chill, and why being wet even in only moderately cold temperatures can be dangerous.
In Front Range Bio Ride, visitors pedal stationary bikes along a virtual reality mountain trail. Sensors in the handlebars measure their heart rate, which is displayed onscreen in real time in juxtaposition with a target heart rate based on their age and gender. Personal data is saved to the Peak Pass database and printed out on visitors’ take-away souvenir cards.
This EKG component was part of an innovative prototyping scope of work built into the preliminary design phase of work. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the highly personalized approach being proposed, we created a suite of 13 prototype components incorporating all of the features envisioned for the final exhibition: a barcoded Peak Pass picked up at entry and used to activate exhibits; “buddies” selected at sign-in who then function as virtual learning companions; complex physical interactive devices with digital interfaces and data-capturing sensors communicating with a central database; and a Personal Profile print out.
Signing out of Expedition Health, you receive a Peak Pass Personal Profile with your name, age, date, buddy’s name and data logged at four exhibit components. Included on the pass are an EKG image capture, resting and target heart rates, height and arm span measurements with your picture, and stride, with you shown walking in silhouette along with your walking speed, stride length and “energy” score. These and additional data are also available at the project’s secure website. The Personal Profile take-away is the culmination of an experience that is powerful and engaging because it is about you, personally.