David Waterhouse, the wonder of birds

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I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet with David Waterhouse and talk about his ‘Wonder of Birds’ exhibition currently running at the Norwich Castle Museum.

Wonder of Birds at the Norwich Castle Museum

Wonder of Birds at the Norwich Castle Museum

I was interested to know why he had chosen the pieces he had and whether he had looked at more modern technology within this show, trying to gauge if my work would be suitable in this kind of environment.

It took him 4 years to curate the whole show and he wanted to use new technology and computers as an extra way of interacting and layering information, but constraints on time and budget meant he really needed to concentrate on the pieces first and foremost, and not having an extra pair of hands, or a new technologist to concentrate on that side of things, meant it didn’t happen for this project.

But, up in the rotunda with the regimental museum section, they have introduced touchscreens to explain more of the exhibits that you can see. David told me that at one time they used to have museum interpreters working in the different sections and they would act as guides for the pieces, and they hoped that these touchscreens would be used in a similar way.

I then went on to show David my AR binoculars, which he was fascinated with and we discussed which parts of my project could have real world use and these he felt the strongest element that could translate across into exhibitions.

David Waterhouse using my AR binoculars

David Waterhouse using my AR binoculars

He loved the fact that inside the shiny binoculars was just an old iPhone which meant that it was accessible to everyone with just the device in their own pockets. He could see them being used for looking inside animals, seeing the skeleton over the stuffed animal, or seeing what it once would have looked like over the bones.

He also agreed with me that the recognisable form factor – binoculars – meant that you instinctively knew what to do with them, which was my hope!

David had also looked at the art of labelling and had read some research about the distance between the article and it’s label, the further away from the object, actually contributes to disconnecting the information. This made sense, if it took you a long time to find the correlating text, you may well have lost interest or seen something else in the meantime!

I think this is where AR has a real bonus, you’re right there and so is the information…

Touchscreens in the Regimental Museum section at Norwich Castle

Touchscreens in the Regimental Museum section at Norwich Castle

After our interview I went up to visit the screens in the rotunda, they look great, there is a vast amount of information on them, beautifully presented, but when I sat to observe people interacting with the space, everyone enjoyed looking at the objects in the glass cases, and stood and looked at the screens, but apart from children (and me) nobody touched them, the girl I saw quickly swiped back and forth over the timeline, but was called away by her mum to look in the case… The screens are sat on a wall facing the objects, but of course you have to sit with your back to the objects to use them and then you’re sat right in front of a wall, with a great photo on it, blown up to cover the entire wall, but only the screen…

The information on them is also quite dry, wonderfully detailed in many different layers, but no-one to click on them… a shame… they have done exactly what David was referring too, disassociated the information from the objects, through physical distance.


Digital Revolution and the V&A

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Digital Revolution at the Barbican until 14th September


I had desperately wanted to get down to London to see this Digital show, but with deadlines short this was the only date available, with College Workshops shut on a Friday the only thing left for me to do was the writing and visit this show, so with 4 hours on the train to concentrate on my critical evaluation I thought it was a perfect opportunity to marry the two.



The exhibition is broken up into sections.


Although it was fascinating to see all of the old technology I had hoped for more from this section, I recognised quite a few games and consoles, such as an old spectrum and the cream coloured macs with floppy disk drive, it wasn’t much of a revolution.

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

The We Create section was more what I was expecting, you could submit your art in the Johnny Cash Project and interact with robotic birds made from recycled phones, by contacting them on an old dial phone.


The information about inception and gravity was interesting, but the way they presented and you could access the behind the scenes layers of Inception was of more interest to me, they looked to be using leapmotion…. A wonderful little device which can track five fingers of movement in 3D space. Really fluid transition though the layers on information, very responsive and made it very easy to jump in and use.

wpid-dsc_0179.jpgwpid-dsc_0177.jpgUsing the leap motion to scroll through the layers used in the making of Inception.

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

The will.i.am project was ok, it was just a platform with fancy animatronics to control the individually designed pyramid instruments and the cleverest part was the use of the inverted shape to give the illusion that his eyes and face were following you around the room, but it’s a very old trick.


Chris Milk’s ‘State of play’ is a really impressive interactive art piece, this is exactly what I expected from the digital revolution show – and it looked spectacular, the movement was fluid and although it all happens quite quickly, you really get engaged with your shadow and what happens to it in the three stages. Very reactive and fully immersive in the massive space.

Dev art was full of more quirky pieces, I wasn’t sure if I was contributing to the art there or not for some of the pieces, but the keyboard radio was quite fascinating.

Dev Art area

Dev Art area

Digital futures included lady gagas dress and a skirt you could put pregenerated led light images onto (iMiniskirt).

Again the indie games section was interesting but not what I’d call innovative.

Mimaforms petting zoo

Mimaforms petting zoo

The mimaforms petting zoo was only disappointing because I didn’t see a single person successfully interact with them, they looked cool though.



Umbrellium was a trance experience in a smoky underbelly space and felt like being at the end of a quiet rave, when viewed through the plexiglass window whilst we had our pep talk, it looked like a zombie movie, people entranced by the light moving slowly about with their arms outraised to the light.

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

The Laser feast tree installation was a work on an immense scale, it looked amazing and gently moving through the ‘trees’ giving each trunk a good push make pleasing tones and I really enjoyed watching the laser lights on the roof dance about alongside their relaxing notes.

Overall I was slightly disappointed with The Barbican show, but on the other hand very interested to see that my peer Andy Logies art and sound piece, would fit straight in, and with a few tweaks, so would mine.

Andy had his Forum exhibition on Thursday and it was brilliant, it worked wel, looked fantastic on the enormous screens they have in the Fusion screen at the Forum, and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with his piece.

Andy Logie's piece 'bound'

Andy Logie’s piece ‘bound’

Although it made me think a little more about mine, would my piece be as engaging, it’s a very quick shot – firing  the flight animation – will it hold the viewer for more than a moment, how do I get across the meaning behind it… ie, this is what AR could do for you, and you already have the device in your pocket!

The V&A palindrome sign

The V&A palindrome sign

I managed to squeeze in a quick dash to the V & A, to see their interactive tables….

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

The V & A furniture collection have introduced touch screens with information beside the object, but they are just so dry, very similar to the screens at Norwich Museum, even though they are right by the object, they feel strangely disconnected and are uninteresting to click on.

wpid-dsc_0128.jpgThe materials interactive tables are also disappointing… although you have the added interest of tactility with the object itself, they have samples of the different materials scattered around the tables edge, the content that comes up is just like a page from the internet and again it’s a very dry way of interacting.

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

The way that it functions is also slightly awkward as you need to hold your hand over the little hole that they have in each different piece of wood or metal sample, and if you remove your hand before it’s loaded it can stall and disappear, conversely if you do want to read the other pages, hovering over the object for their pre-determined amount of time feels like an eternity to wait. I would like to have seen the first page come up much quicker and then be able to control the speed and which page I am viewing with the more intuitive hand swipes and gesture that we are used to using.

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

It’s a very large area for not much happening.

Rapid Response Collectiona st the V&A

Rapid Response Collection at the V&A

However the rapid response collecting area which I stumbled upon was a really pleasant surprise.


“The museum collected the objects in this gallery in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing”

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

An eclectic collection of a dozen objects, one of which included the app ‘flappy bird’ and a wearable terminal, they had an oculus rift headset.

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Great to see such an established Museum making a collection out of news headline tech or social changes.

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects is one of the featured shows within the V&A currently and it was interesting to see this very politically motivated exhibition on one side of the beautiful reception area, and just opposite were the beautiful statues in a grand space.




Interactive art – Aparna Rao: Art that craves your attention

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Looking through some old ted talks, I came across Aparna Rao and this fascinating TED talk about some of the art pieces she was working on last year (August 2013) her art work is playful and puts no barriers between the viewer and the art. The art itself senses movement near it or in the room, Aparna doesn’t talk about all the technical sides to her works, this type of art is more a kinetic art, but the playful way in which she puts the pieces together delight the viewer, making them smile and enjoy the work… Do they see it as art or is it installation, or technology, or is this the beginnings of a new way of experiencing art… For Aparna, it seems the interaction between her ‘shy’ little characters and the random  movement of a viewer in the different spaces it’s all about connection and then disconnection.

Her first piece is Imperial Monochromes the art space has several panels of art on the wall, but they are all messily arranged, but as you enter they autonomously form into a neat grid layout, as if you have disturbed them at play, and caught them being naughty. After some time passes though, they relax back into their disorderly state.

 So here it appears as if it’s the viewerthat’s sort of instigating the sense of order among the panels, but it could also be the other way around, that the panels are so stuck within their preconditioned behaviors that they sort of thrust the viewer with the role of a tyrant.

her second piece is a delightfully innocent ‘sculpture’ called ‘Handheld’ where a piece of A4 paper is held by two delicately carved tiny wooden hands, that appear to tremble with the natural forces of outstretched arms over time, as they start to quake with the effort of holding in the same position

 we’re sort of trying to evoke a self-effacing gesture, as if there’s a little person with outstretched arms behind this enormous piece of paper. That sort of likens it to the amount of strain to be at the service of the observer and present this piece of paper very delicately to the viewer in front of them.

Next is a work called Decoy, which appears to be a very needy household object that desperately tries to get your attention by waving and rocking, but once that is achieved, it gets bored and just wants to wait for the next person…

It appears to be mass-manufactured like it came out of a factory like vacuum cleaners and washing machines…. we like how this consumer aesthetic sort of depersonalizes the object and gives us a bit of distance in its appearance, at least.  And so to us this is a kind of sinister being which is trying to distract you from the things that actually need your attention, but it could also be a figure that needs a lot of help.

Next Aparna introduces a large scale piece called ‘clappers’, the viewer approaches what looks like a  scaled down amphitheater where 996 little figures will clap, or not dependent on their ‘mood’ , they have their own free will.

So to us, I think we’re really looking at an audience as its own object or its own organism that’s also got a sort of musical-like quality to it, an instrument. So the viewer can play it by eliciting quite complex and varied, nuanced musical or sound patterns, but cannot really provoke the audience into any particular kind of response. So there’s a sense of judgment and capriciousness and uneasiness involved. It also has an alluring and trap-like quality to it.

And the last on in this talk is ‘Framerunners’, Aparna took the idea for the frames from a real window in their studio and managed to place inside the frame depth the little framerunners themselves, but she wanted them to have a more realistic puppet like quality and in collaboration with a Zurich firm was able to manufacture a naturalistic hand manipulated movement  which is sweet and comical. But not only are they immediately endearing and engaging, again these little figures react to the viewer, it’s almost as if the watcher has disturbed or frightened them and they dash back into the safety of the nearest frame.

So to us, this work also presents its own contradiction.These figures are sort of entrapped within this very strong grid, which is like a prison, but also a fortress, because it allows them to be oblivious and naive and carefree and quite oblivious of the external world. So all these real life qualities that I talk about are sort of translated to a very specific technical configuration

For me this artwork is the other side to augmented reality as this is real physical involvement, your presence changes the art and what it does, perhaps in the future Augmented Reality will be more like this,   rather than having to use an intermediary device to see the movement… It’s also self contained within the piece rather than an extra screen that could show the film on interaction with someone entering the space.

Food for thought on displaying my artwork…

V&A material display tables

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One of the comments from my feedback referenced the new furniture gallery in the V&A, it’s taken a little searching, but at last I found a link with some video on Vimeo so I can see exactly what it would be like.

So you can see that they have these giant tables with a panoramic screen which displays information about the different materials used in furniture making. Around the edge of the screen are pieces of these materials, encouraging the viewer to move around, and touch each piece.

I’m not sure if there is any interactivity between the samples and the displayed video, but if there was that would be really cool.. of course if many people are touching many pieces that could get quite complicated, but I love the idea of the tactility.

from the webpage…

“V&A Furniture Gallery Table Installation

The Interactive exhibit is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) new furniture gallery. The interactive material display tables celebrate the unique qualities and characteristics of 32 different furniture materials.

Each material sample object has been beautifully designed and crafted to seduce visitors into touching them, and thereby gaining a rich and tactile understanding of their distinctive features and textures. This simple, intuitive, and engaging act triggers a digital display sequence of tailored content allowing visitors to discover more about the materials origins, production, and usage.

The 32 material sample objects have been thematically grouped, and placed around the edges of the two bespoke tables. Embedded within the center of each table is a panoramic screen display. This arrangement encourages visitors to move around the tables, and interact with the material samples. There is no need for a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen, as all the interaction is built around the experiencing of the material qualities of each sample, the forming of personal haptic connections, the pleasure of tactility.

http://chrismullany.com/2013/05/11/va-furniture-materials-gallery-interactive-tables/ – a link to the creative director from AllofUs who created the tables.  There is interactivity between the physical furniture material sample and the table’s display.

This company also did this… http://allofus.com/

At Last, but it wasn’t easy

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Today has been an up and down day, I had to go into work, so lose 3 hours straight away.

Knowing I was going to be in town I had emailed Jon Maxwell, my contact at the Castle Museum, in the hope he might be about so I can touch base and show him where I am.

Luckily for me he was and I was able to show him the working static model through the Aurasma app and using my trigger image.



I think he was impressed with the 3D model appearing over the trigger, but wanted to know where it would go from there. He is very interested in apps and the Castle doesn’t have one, I told him about my trip to London and the guys there and how they are working it and trying to move maybe towards html rather than proprietary apps, but I know how easy it would be to create an app for them with extra content on their bigger, more popular exhibits, plus a small section for their special collections, it would be simple but a lot of hard work. He would need to look at the viability of implementing it, cost etc, but as I said to him, anything I do for the Bustard he can have as it’s my MA project and my idea to bring to fruition… but as yet no-one in the Norwich Castle Museum is even thinking in this area…

What I realised when I was there and watching him look at it though is the trigger image would need to be much, much bigger if it were to be a floor graphic.


I tried it in situ and also took a photo of two pieces of paper in front of the cabinet, but it still was way off the size I imagined it to be, on reflection it would definitely need to be A2+.

Also, the static model was so dull I really needed to make that animation work.

As soon as I got back home I set about stripping out curves, joints, NURBS, animation etc from the static model which had worked in the Aurasma platform, I thought I had better check it, so popped in a couple of lights and started the export process..

oh no..


Again and again Maya quits on me as I try and export my collada file, I restart my machine, I re-save my scene with a new name, but no luck… Will this ever end…

I look through my scene, surely the  lights and the fact the model is made up of three different materials can’t be a problem,, can it.. I take them all out, it exports…

Back to animating them the simple way, let’s just get some movement in there, I bob the body and dip the head, but without the skeleton and joints, it just looks so awkward… Well, let’s see if we can get some animation through the Aurasma studio… it works, not the best animation, but it works…

Back to Maya, refine the animation slightly, add in some leg movement – this animation will not win any awards, it’s probably the worst animation I have ever done, but I tell you what, it goes through Aurasma again.

It’s looking a little dark, dare I add in a light? I just put in a single spotlight, it goes through…

I try another, the lighting works better now, although the colour is dull, dull, dull.

Looking at the model jigging about in it’s awkward animation I think it’s time to add a little more information into the Aura, it looks good, but an animated bird doesn’t get over what the AR can do, this is more than ‘here’s an animated bird’ job done, it’s about getting over more information, if you need it, if you want it. So I quickly work up a couple of buttons and an information box in illustrator.

GB_info_button GB_info_txtGBOW

I add these into the advanced actionset in the Aurasma studio and check out the result, I like it, but I wish I could get some texture onto the model.

I go back into maya and brave the UV mapper, I re-jig some of my images and fit them onto the shapes, it’s tricky but I get them looking good in Maya.


Upon upload into the Aurasma studio in the 3D preview window it still looks good, I am hopeful.


But when viewed on my iPad the images are all over the place, it’s so disappointing, it would really put the cherry on the cake…

I re-jig and refit and reformat the images, but it doesn’t help on the outcome, I now have 16 slightly different files that I have created in an attempt to get this working.

I look back into the Aurasma guidelines for 3D submission

  • Individual texture maps (.png format) must be of a dimension to the power of 2 (we recommend 128×128, 256×256, 512×512 or 1024×1024). Textures cannot be larger than 1024×1024 pixels.

Ok, I go back into photoshop and make all of my images exactly 512×512 and export as png’s, reattach them to the model and upload, fingers crossed…

Pecha Kucha – good!

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So here is the text from my Pecha Kucha talk today, I was all cool about it until about 30 mins before, when reading through my text it all became a bit too much and the nerves kicked in, so to get my point across I decided just to underline the important bits I definitely wanted to say… I had seen so many people not say what they wanted I decided to take the extra time just to highlight a few bits here and there, and it went really well, really lovely feedback from the other guys on the MA and surprisingly fab reviews from the tutors.

I was quite ready for a bit of a bashing but it just didn’t happen. I was really pleased with the way it went, people laughed in the right places and my message seems very clear.. The only thing I wanted to include was a 3D graphic, but I just haven’t had time to sit with MAYA and go through the basics, so I know what I’m going to be doing next week!

The link below is to my powerpoint presentation in it’s entirety ans the text below was my ‘script’


1-      Title – Augmenting Reality

Hello I’m Tracey and I’m on the Moving Image and Sound course and my project, interest and research are all based in and around Augmented Reality

2-      In the beginning – in one way or another we have always looked to augment our surroundings, giving ourselves if you like, an extra layer of reality. The Phantasmagoria, Pepper’s Ghost, Cinerama, sensorama, etc

3-      These days with the advances in technology you can use smaller more personal devices to connect more layers to your world. QR codes, Google goggles and a raft of Augmented Reality apps, these are great, fun, but surely with this kind of medium available surely we can do something a little more creative and inventive than the commercial aspect?

4-      Manifest AR, an AR art movement founded in 2010 that wants to push the boundaries between tech and art, of what is art in a digital age,

5-      This still is taken from Sandeer Veenhofs earliest digital disruptive gorilla AR art which took place in MOMA in San Francisco where they entered the gallery and put the digital art over the original art without the galleries permission, a somewhat underground, but successful movement, FACT in Liverpool have commissioned and just launched the largest AR project and exhibition involving 6 practitioners who have created virtual exhibits all around the city

6-      Of course places like the Science Museum are a leading light for using advanced digital techniques to try and promote interactivity and when I visited it I was able to speak with their Head of New Media, Dave Patten about their experiences with various emerging technology.

7-      They have trialled and hosted many different interactive exhibits the James May app being one of them, a trigger image is mounted beside the relevant object, using their app James May appears before you telling you all about the history, workings and stories about the machinery beside you.

8-      They are also using a simple method within their Atmosphere zone where you physically interact with a ‘book’ and the pages change making it an Interesting interactive way of showing simple, but important information.

9-      But what am I going to do with this technology and my design and animation background?… well, yes, I do literally want to bring something to life in front of your very eyes.

10-   If you’ve never been into the Norwich Castle Museum, the first area you enter is the Ted Ellis room where these wonderful dioramas live, accompanied by a lovely audiotrack of the various birds that you can see.

11-   After the diorama area you enter into a room full of shelves and display cases with dozens and dozens of stuffed birds of all shapes and sizes rising up to the ceiling and in the center of the room are two large and impressive display cases one with an albatross and another hidden behind some chairs – with a group of large and impressive birds  in.

12-   These are the Great Bustards, once a thriving species in East Anglia, but now, sadly no more.  Extinct as a UK breeding species since 1832… When I first saw this label and these majestic animals almost hidden behind the chairs, at the back of the room, I thought to myself wouldn’t it be great to bring them back to life.

13-   To bring them from their dry and dusty cabinet into the modern world and have them walk amongst us again. I knew with the current technology it was possible, but could I make it happen? I felt so sorry for the Great Bustard I decided to embark on this my MA journey to find out.

14-   But you can’t just make it move, you have to make it interactive, fun, give it some narrative, make the visitor want to play with the object and tell others about, spread the word. I have found in my professional experience as a designer that it’s no good make something beautiful, a recurring comment that came back to me through both of the guys I met in the London Museums.

15-   The basics of bringing it back to life are really complicated, it’s walk needs to be analysed in great depth and detail, each bird has its own gait and style, so to start I need to break down the movement into separate frames

16-   The animate it in a simple 2D linear fashion so as to study the shape more easily, to follow the great bustards style, then the next step is to turn this into a 3D walkcycle using MAYA – my next big challenge!

17-   But that’s not the only thing I will need to bring it back to life, I need a trigger image, no not that or that or that, but a highly individual recognisable and unique icon, perhaps incorporating a QR code to produce a digital trigger which when your device – loaded with the right app – is pointed at this image the Great Bustard will appear right in front of you.

18-   I have used the castle and the Great Bustard group (they are now being reintroduced onto Salisbury plain) together with a QR code and a small amount of text as my trigger image, this would be placed on the floor of the museum, in front of the display cases highlighting to visitors that extra and exciting content is available here.

19-   So bringing it all together, the trigger, the app – I’m using Aurasma – although there are other apps available – the positioning and the background you should be able to experience, learn and interact with a once extinct animal right on your phone, or mobile device.

20-   That’s when  the magic will start to happen…A little bit like this.

Museum Visit #2 – Natural History Museum

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The second obvious choice for fantastic leading museums is the Natural History Museum, fortunately located just around the corner from the Science Museum!


It was hard to get in touch with members of the right team at NHM, but eventually I struck gold and got shown around by Daniel Brightman, the Interactive Designer at NHM. Just the right guy!

They have developed a fabulous area in the Darwin zone called the Attenborough studio that has had an inventive film specially created to be shown within this area, each visitor has their own device through which they can view 3D models of dinosuars and prehistoric man come to life. ” Who do you think you really are? Interactive film, this amazing 45-minute film will involve you in a revealing story of evolution from Earth’s early history using large-screen projection, personal handsets and webcams.” Watch a clip from the NHM website here

NHM_treasures NHM_skullcase NHM_skullscreen

Currently they aren’t developing any apps, but Dan thinks that moving more towards HTML, rather than an app, or flash content is the way to encompass portable devices and easily transpose information onto the web rather than duplicating and repeating information in varying formats is the way to go. He has just completed a project for ‘treasures’ in the Cadogan Gallery one of their newest areas. Many screens are placed alongside the physical exhibits to give more information in situ.


Nature plus is an initiative with which the visitor can take part of their journey at the NHM home with them on their own Nature Plus card, this gives the viewer a chance to vote for their favourite exhibit – Guy the Gorilla is winning currently – and learn more away from the Museum itself.



They have also digitised one of the most expensive bird books in history into an interactive screen ‘book’ allowing everyone to have a chance to look through this stunningly illustrated book.

Museum Visit #1 – Science Museum

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My second stream of enquiry for the SNU was to go and see two of the leading museums in London using AR, I have been in touch with Racheal Campbell who is the Assistant Press Officer at the Science Museum in London and she has helped put me in touch with Dave Patten who is Head of their New Media team. I had arranged a meeting with Dave, but unfortunately at the last minute I couldn’t meet with him face to face, but he was able to give me half an hour over the phone, he was great to talk to, really enthusiastic and has been involved with new technology for a long time at the Museum. We talked about where Augmented Reality had come from, QR codes and the fact that they have been around for such a long time, although not always used directly they tell the viewer there is extra content within the item, so a good tool. Dave is very interested in seamlessly incorporating technology displays within the viewer’s natural gaze, ie, with Google goggles and also digital contact lens technology. More realistic and within the public’s grasp is something he is working on currently, display cases with transparent screens, so that the glazing becomes a display. This is at the cutting edge of advertising and commercial use of this new glass technology, but he – and I agree with him – can see much more educational and informational uses for this, very exciting. He said I should keep in touch with him and follow their progress as they enter the beta testing phase for one of these display cases…

Upon my visit, Racheal was kind enough to show me around the newest exhibits using AR, or forms of and as the place is rather sprawling I was very glad of her help in directing me to the best bits.

The first bit we went to was in an environment zone where they had set up a ‘blank’ book, with only simple trigger icons on each of the pages, a camera above feeds this into a screen and when it recognises the different icons, new information appears and animates on screen in front of the viewer, making it an interactive book. This was one of the newest items that Dave and his team had set up, and although there is a lot of information, they find that people take more time to experience the interactivity and therefore the information, a very clever way of getting people engaged. (see youtube clip)

Virtual Book video


The big Augmented Reality experience at the Science Museum is the James May app. Qualcomm and Vuforia came to the Science Museum with the idea for the James May app and worked with Dave and the Museum to put it into place. I met Julian Harris from Qualcomm eighteen months ago when this app was newly launched at an AR summit, and he showed us some of the behind the scenes work that Vuforia did with James May to get the 3D model working correctly, so that when you point your device at the trigger image, James pops onto your screen and talks about the model, right in situ.

James May App

The science museum has many innovative and exciting areas, but these were the standout elements for me and I had only limited time to look at and play with them!


SM_interactive SM_stand SM_innoZoneSM_globeSM_floorripple

Other areas included a rippling floor projection, the Google Chrome lab, a 3D globe using 4 projectors to show night, day and environmental damage, a sensorial stand and a simple interactive information board.


They have about 15 ideas for projects within the museum every month in varying degrees of development, and like to work with a wide variety of outside agencies and individuals to keep it all fresh, and to challenge themselves! Dave finds that using historical collections and contextualising them in the now is the best way to engage people, and wants to keep the Science Museum at the fore of new technology for Museums.








Taking a look at the space

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Today was a day to capture footage and photos from the space inside the Norwich Castle Museum where the Great Bustard display is kept.

This video takes us from the outer rotunda area into the Wildlife bit through the Ted Ellis Dioramas. As you can see the Display case is almost hidden behind the chairs.


This photo shows the full width of the area from side to side, there’s lots of space, but I would need to plan carefully where best to place the trigger image.

Sounds from the Diorama room… 

Whilst I was in there a few groups of children came round and were really impressed with the stuffed birds, especially the enormous heron and the Bustards, just because they are so big.

I also took a lot of close ups of the faces of the GB’s just from future reference, but the closer you get to them, the more you can see how dried they are…
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Museum ID – The future of Museums

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A very useful website


and now an electronic copy of the issue I really wanted to see. This has 32 short paragraphs from Museum innovators, curators and new technologists from around the world on where they see the future of the museum heading, my favourite is this one from Steph Mastoris from National Waterfront  Museum, Swansea,

“If the study of the past teaches us anything it is not to trust predictions for the future! So my thoughts about the future of museums are really more about how I feel and hope current technological developments will shape them over the next few decades.

Of course, in any institution worthy of the name “museum” the prime resource is its collections. It will be fascinating, therefore, to see how these artefacts will be made available and experienced as the digital age progresses. While the ease of physical and virtual replication will increase and become more sophisticated, the “magic” of experience of the original, real artefact is bound to become more important to people. In this way we should all be winners.

Such increased access to collections is also bound to improve interpretation. Indeed, the very media that will allow artefacts to be accessed remotely will also provide limitless possibilities for dynamic, user-driven interpretation. Already we are experiencing how sophisticated, multi-layered narratives can be delivered through digital media. And what is equally exciting is that such information uses (in fact demands) material from a wide range of traditional museum disciplines. Digital interpretation is bound to create more joined-up working by museum professionals, so the future museum is surely going to be not only multi-disciplinary, but inter-disciplinary. ”

http://issuu.com/museumid/docs/museumid_issue10 – p67

They also have an event in October which might be worth going down for, although it will cost me £97… plus train tickets.

Museum Ideas 2013 brings together museum leaders and innovators from around the world to share the latest insights and developments globally


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