Week 9 – Inspiring Interactive Design – The Cooper Hewitt Experience and the Pen.

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Figure 1 – Introducing the Pen. (Using the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2016)

In my latest installment of my blog I wanted to talk about something that really caught my attention following on from last week’s blog post. I was looking around at various museums online and seeing how they embraced technology and enhanced the user experience when visiting their own particular museum, one example stood out to me because I have honestly never seen anything like this before and found it fascinating. It is created by Local Projects who Jake Barton, the focus of last week’s blog post who was also speaking as part of that Studio.

The museum in question is the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, they claim to be the “only museum in the nation devoted exlusively to history and contemporary design”(About Cooper Hewitt | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014) and their creation ‘The Pen’.

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 Figure 2 – The iterations and Prototypes showing the development of the pen are even on display in the musseum. (O’Kane, 2015)

The Pen was created by Local Projects who comment on the Design Museum by saying “We are an Experience Design Studio and we made everyone a designer”. (Local projects, 2017) who worked with Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The pitch was to “invite visitors to learn about design by designing themselves”(Designing the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014). The pen was enhance further by adding methods of interacting with the displays at the museum in a departure from using some kind of other technology like a phone or tablet.

The pen uses two different forms of technology, a sensor in the pen “reads the information on small NFC tags embedded in the object labels” (Designing the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014). This information is used with the second technology which is by using this stored information as well as the traditional stylus touchscreen technology on the giant high-definition screens on tables in the design museum that are produced by Ideum who have made their multifunction high-definition table designs commercially available to purchase.

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Figure 3 – The large interactive tables are in use throughout the museum. (The new Cooper Hewitt experience | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014)

Together the pen and the table allow the user to explore the museum and interact in ways that have never been done before, to “explore, manipulate and discover related objects” (Designing the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014).

The pen was manufactured with technology that is used in the healthcare industry and then integrated in house with the design museums own large collection. The pen runs off batteries and the user will be greeted with the pen as they arrive and purchase a ticket to enter the museum.

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Figure 4 – You receive a pen along with a printed ticket with a code so you can access what you collect with the pen beyond your time in the museum. (The new Cooper Hewitt experience | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014)

The pen has three key functions in the design museum.

  • To draw on the tables.

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Figure 5 – Sketching on the tables. (The new Cooper Hewitt experience | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014)

  • To collect information using the NFC tags.

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Figure 6 – Using the pen to collect information. (The new Cooper Hewitt experience | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2014)

  • You get a code with your admission ticket, where you can revisit everything you tagged and created while in the museum from home on a personal page linked off the main website. To share and continue your experience with the museum.

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Figure 7 – The idea of continuing your visit beyond the pen and the museum. (Using the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum, 2016)

The Verge describes the pen as “your museum companion” (O’Kane, 2015). Also Bright White have quoted that “the pen has been distributed 62,015 times, out of the total 65,935 visitors to the museum meaning the take up rate in the first five months to 94.05%” (Murphy, 2016).

In my opinion this is a fantastic innovation to the museum experience, I think the interactive giant touchscreen tables offer a whole range of possibilities and the pen itself makes for a great tool, I do like the idea of something you can carry around in your pocket, rather than holding an expensive tablet in front of you, you still have the tablet access to content through the giant tables, the key advantage is that you get an “amplified experience” (Barton, 2015) but also your attention is very much kept in the room rather than looking at an item of technology instead of the exhibits, this is one of the best modern examples I have seen online without question.

References:

About Cooper Hewitt | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum (2014) Available at: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/about/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Barton, J. (2015) Jake Barton on how to create meaningful interactions through technology. Available at: http://www.designindaba.com/videos/conference-talks/jake-barton-how-create-meaningful-interactions-through-technology (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Designing the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum (2014) Available at: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/new-experience/designing-pen/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Diller scofidio + renfro (1981) Available at: http://www.dsrny.com/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Ideum (2017) Touch tables and Multitouch coffee tables. Available at: http://ideum.com/touch-tables/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Local projects (2017) Available at: http://www.localprojects.net/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Murphy, A. (2016) Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian design museum: Reinventing the pen – museums + heritage advisor. Available at: http://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/features/cooper-hewitt-the-major-renovation-and-reinventing-the-pen/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

O’Kane, S. (2015) The Smithsonian’s design museum just got some high-tech upgrades. Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/11/8182051/smithsonian-cooper-hewitt-design-museum-reopening-pen-4k (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

Using the pen | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian design museum (2016) Available at: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/events/current-exhibitions/using-the-pen/ (Accessed: 12 January 2017).

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