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Cooper Hewitt museum visitors to use NFC pens to interact with multi-touch display tables

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Ideum touch tables and interactive pens

Visitors to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York are to be given the opportunity to use an NFC pen to interact with a range of NFC-enabled multi-touch display tables, enabling them to ‘draw’ on the tables and keep track of the objects in the collection that they interact with.

The multi-touch tables were developed for the museum by design and technology firm Ideum while the pens are based on Sistelnetworks’ vWand.

“For the new Cooper Hewitt, Ideum designed and developed four massive 4K ultra high definition 84-inch multitouch tables along with a half-dozen 55-inch tables and touch walls,” Ideum explains. “All in all, over two tons of custom high-tech touch tables and screens were shipped from New Mexico to New York City for the New Cooper Hewitt Experience.

“The 84-inch 4K touch tables use projected capacitive touch technology, the same technology found in popular tablets and smartphones. In addition, these unique touch tables have 10 NFC gateways allowing visitors to check in with the museum’s interactive pen, that allows them to collect and create and access their activity after their visit.

“Visitors can draw on the tables and keep track of the objects in the collection that they interact with. Building in support for the pen and for multi-user interaction provided additional technical and design challenges. Ideum integrated all this new technology into the systems, providing a robust platform allowing up to eight users to simultaneously interact with each large multi-touch table.”

The NFC interactive pens will be given to visitors at admission, beginning in early 2015. At the end of a visit, the pen is returned and all the objects collected or designed by the visitor are accessible online through a unique web address printed on every ticket. These can be shared online and stored for later use in subsequent visits.

“The pen combines two main technologies,” Cooper Hewitt explains. “Its interface with the interactive tables employs the sort of conductive materials common to touchscreen styli. Its interface with the object labels employs NFC technology.

“A sensor in the end of the pen reads the information on small NFC tags embedded in the object labels. This information is stored in the pen’s onboard memory and can be read at the interactive tables.”

“Our experience in developing reliable touch table products has helped us develop these custom systems for Cooper Hewitt,” says Paul Lacey, CTO at Ideum. “Everything about these systems is unique; many of the components weren’t even available until this summer. We were designing these touch tables in anticipation of new technology.”

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