Windows on Earth exhibit
The New England Economic AdventureThis is a new exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an interactive theater which plays the Invest-in-Growth game, which teaches about economic advances using three examples from New England's past. Visitors compete to make the best investment choices for each time period. Each visitor has an audience response touch-screen. The screen shows the visitor's bank balance, multiple-choice questions, and investment choices; accepts input from the visitor; and shows the results of the visitor's choices.
The system is built around two Macintosh servers. One server handles the attendant's touchscreen, and sends commands to the lighting system, the video system, the audio system and the audience response system. The second server handles the audience response touch-screens, distributing commands to the audience terminals and collecting audience responses; it also generates dynamic graphics and audio for the projection screen.
The audience terminals are PDAs running the Windows Pocket PC OS. These execute a Macromedia Flash-based supervisory program which communicates with the audience response server via Ethernet. Under command of the server, the PDAs load Flash fragments from a web server which assemble into the user interface. User input is reported back to the server, which maintains the users' balances. Configuration is done using XML.
Subcontracting for Northern Light Productions of Boston, I wrote all of the PDA and audience response server software, using Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Director, Java and C++. I also consulted extensively on the user interface design for the show.
You can find information on the New England Economic Adventure at <http://www.economicadventure.org>. I also photographed and built a panorama of the theater. You can see it here in three different sizes: (172 kB), (832 kB) and (2.3 MB).
Exploring Maya Ceramics
Working for Chedd Angier Lewis Production Company, I wrote the central software for a touchscreen application called Exploring Maya Ceramics. Written in Adobe Flash, it presented high-resolution scans of the surfaces of six painted Maya vessels.
Work in the 21st Century
This project was for the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. It is a 36-station interactive theater. Video from a videodisc player is mixed with graphics from a Macintosh computer and projected on a 60" diagonal projection TV. Each visitor sits in front of a voting pad with five buttons and LEDs. During the program the visitors are asked their opinion of various issues; they use the voting pads to indicate their preferences. The results are dynamically graphed on-screen and compared to previous audience's results.
Subcontracting for Cambridge Studios in Newton, MA, I wrote all of the Macintosh software, including the Director code, the external module used for controlling video playthrough, and the external module used for communicating with the voting pads.
Five kiosks for the John Hancock Observatory
In partnership with Myriad Inc., I created five different touchscreen kiosks for the John Hancock Observatory in Boston, MA. Each featured a 21" touchscreen driven by a Macintosh, built into a custom kiosk. The kiosks were designed to be robust and maintenance-free, with full event and error logging as well as automatic rebooting. They had accumulated a combined 100,000 hours of trouble-free use when the observatory closed in the fall of 2001.
The five kiosks featured four different software packages. Panorama (which appeared in two kiosks) featured eight high-resolution images taken from the roof of the John Hancock Tower. The images formed a 360° panorama of Boston. The screen displayed one image at a time, along with icons on each visible landmark.
The visitor could pan all through the panorama, or touch an icon to see the name of a landmark, along with a magnified view. The visitor could also bring up a list of landmark names; touching a name panned the view to the proper direction and then showed the landmark name and magnified view. A built-in authoring tool allowed the Observatory staff to add landmarks as necessary.
Discover Boston and Discover Historic Boston were trivia quizzes. Each had a database of forty multiple choice questions matched with appropriate colorful cartoons. When a visitor started a quiz eight questions were randomly chosen from the database and offered to the visitor. After the eight questions the visitor was given his score.
How Do I Get There? showed a map of Boston, marked with forty landmarks. A visitor could touch a landmark on the map, or choose a landmark from a scrolling list. After choosing a landmark he could ask for directions via foot, public transportation, or car. The directions were shown on the screen, and could then be laserprinted along with a high-resolution map.
Eight exhibits at The Computer Museum
I wrote eight kiosk-based exhibits for The Computer Museum (since absorbed by the Museum of Science in Boston):
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