Monday, November 06, 2006

Adobe looks at interactive technology in public places

AllOfUs’s kiosk for the William Blake and John Flaxman exhibitionIt seems like the the artsy, one-off interactive kiosks and pavilions always get the coolest technology and the most media attention. Maybe it's because they're so expensive and they can't hope for solid ROI. Maybe it's because the tech they use is often still new and unproven. Or maybe it's because dragging my fingers across an illuminated sheet of glass or ringing a virtual bell doesn't translate well into a practical approach for using self-service technologies.

Whatever it is, pop culture writer Jennifer Kabat has written an interesting piece at Adobe Design Center about some of the more unique, experiential interactive projects out there right now. As she notes, "the best interactive exhibits are open-ended. They encourage visitors to be active participants in the experience rather than passive consumers of information. They take their visitors’ views seriously and break down the hierarchy of institutions. So now, 30 years after Derrida and Foucault challenged notions of who controls texts and history, these issues are trickling down to the museum through tools like iPods. Which are just what you’ll be using soon to take the various self-guided architecture tours at the Hancock Shaker Village."

Typically invoking Foucault or Derrida to talk about interactive museum exhibits would bury the needle on my BS-o-meter, but Kabat makes the excellent point: museum goers (and the average consumer) demand more from an experience these days, so once conservative groups (even the Shakers!) are turning to technology to boost the appeal of their presentations and encourage deeper learning than is possible with static displays and presentations.

Even if you don't believe (or understand) all that, you should check out her article for the cool interactive terminals she came across in her travels.

Tags: museum kiosks, interactive displays, retail experience

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