London Trip! – Exploring the Science Museum for the sake of Media – Sweet!

Yesterday we embarked on a trip to the Science Museum up in London, as a regular attender of the museum throughout my years of primary and secondary school I jumped at the chance to get to go and explore what I knew to be a fantastically interesting place, made better by the university covering transport for the day.

The aim of the trip was to explore a digital exhibition currently running at the museum, I also found a few other exhibits worth mentioning while I was there such as a fascinating 3D printing exhibition showcasing many of the greatest advancements in this form of printing still very much in its infancy. The digital exhibition we went to see was called ‘Information Age’ and it showcased 200 years of innovation in communication and information technology. I found the exhibition extremely interesting and made sure I captured the main exhibits I found most interesting. Here are some of the shots I took during the day.

An actual Google Maps enabled
An actual Google Maps bike used to map streets worldwide, Google have invested heavily in their ‘Maps’ website over the years to make it one of the most popular navigation tools available to the general public.

During the trip we were meant to observe how the visitors to the museum interacted with the environment and exhibitions as this would help us later when we came to completing our processing project, during the day we would try (not to look like stalkers) to view how the public saw the exhibitions and what they did when it came to interacting with them, due to our processing projects being based around getting audiences to interact with technology it was key that we made good observations on their behaviour, when observing exhibitions and users I believe the best exhibitions are the ones which involve little to no instruction where it comes to how to interact with them, for instance, one exhibition was projecting a pool onto the floor which would react by rippling should anyone step ‘onto’ the pool, this was so simple yet effective in encouraging users to step onto the projection and experiment, eventually I saw adults as well as kids (myself included) to experiment by putting different body parts onto the pool to see how it reacted, if my interactive instillation could have an effect similar to this where users feel at ease to experiment with the limitations and elements of the instillation.

This is an example of the pool exhibit, I found myself experimenting for over 5 minutes with this exhibit, as well as observing others finding the exhibit very interesting.
This is an example of the pool exhibit, I found myself experimenting for over 5 minutes with this exhibit, as well as observing others finding the exhibit very interesting.

As we were in the Science Museum, it seemed wrong to just explore the exhibition we were tasked to explore, therefore we explored almost every part of the museum to see what we could find, as well as this it was important to think about which interactive exhibits I found most interesting during the visit, this would perhaps give me some guidance on good ideas to implement in my own interactive exhibition.

One interesting exhibit I noticed is shown below, it uses a thermal camera like a webcam to show yourself and your temperature, at first this is an interesting concept as we’re becoming more accustomed to seeing ourselves through webcams and various cameras what with the increased availability of technology but when presented with a thermal view I found even I could not help but experiment with this exhibit, moving on further than just observing your body through this camera a member of staff came over and showed us the possibilities of this exhibit, he demonstrated how the rubberised flooring around the exhibit creates more friction which results in the output of heat and therefore by simply dragging your foot along the floor it was remarkably easy to spell out your name (unfortunately I do not have photo evidence for this but take my word it certainly fascinated me!), as well as this the member of staff demonstrated how if we were to stand behind a glass window just behind us then then despite being able to see the monitor displaying the thermal cameras output the sheet didn’t conduct heat well therefore the thermal camera could not ‘see us’ or pick up our heat. I believe the concept of using the body as a tool is fascinating and is an excellent way of drawing people into an exhibit, this is because people are immersed into the exhibit, they directly change the outcome of it and therefore are free to experiment as they like, after observing the behaviour of others as well as my own behaviour this was one of my more solid conclusions regarding interactive exhibitions.

Here I have tried to show how the thermal camera works by using my foot to create friction on the surface and create my name 'Oli' on the floor. (Hopefully it's bright enough to make out).
Here I have tried to show how the thermal camera works by using my foot to create friction on the surface and create my name ‘Oli’ on the floor. (Hopefully it’s bright enough to make out)).
Science Museum Trip - Objects with the thermal camera
Here I have a mask over my face (no thats not my actual face) showing how certain objects can block the cameras view of heat from my face and reveal it in direct contrast with the heat of my eyes and mouth.

In conclusion to this trip, I am glad we had this opportunity to visit the Science Museum and I feel it has aided in my understanding of how the user treats interactive exhibitions, I will use my findings here and try and ensure my own interactive exhibition is clear, simple and focused around many elements reacting to the user to create further interest in the instillation.

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