One of the biggest challenges facing galleries, museums and other entertainment venues today is how to make the visitor experience as compelling as possible, particularly when competing with other forms of entertainment. Today’s younger generation, in particular, have very high expectations, thanks to their everyday use of video games and other media. Plus, there is the additional challenge of finite physical space, meaning that what venues can display is inherently limited.
This is why an increasing number of the world’s attractions venues are turning to multi-user, multi-touch AV technology. With its ability to show such a rich array of information while allowing several people to engage with the screen at any one time, the technology takes the AV experience to a whole new level. While it might be used as part of a particular exhibition, the technology – with its visual “wow” factor –is increasingly finding permanent uses and providing far more than just way finding.
For example, windows on the screen can provide deeper insights into parts of the venue. You can include fun, interactive elements, such as modifying well-known paintings (imagine drawing a moustache – just temporarily! – on the Mona Lisa) or exploring the remains of Pompeii (and build your own Roman villa at the same time).
Several viewers can compete to identify star constellations across the Galaxy, or create their own football teams who can then compete against each other. They can home in on the Statue of Liberty, flipping the screen to see it from another angle or enjoying a bird’s eye view from the very top of her crown. They can take interactive tours of hidden treasures in the museum’s vaults, watch 3D interviews with celebrity sportspeople, play interactive video games themed to the venue – the potential is only limited by designers’ imaginations.
Generate more visitor revenue
Adding an extra layer to the whole visitor experience in this way also creates opportunities to generate additional revenue. For example, consumers can take an interactive tour of the museum shop catalogue and view far more merchandise than is possible in a physical space. They can purchase discounted tickets for future events, or even pay a nominal amount to enter an online competition or play a game, with guaranteed low-cost prizes.
Multi-touch AV systems can also be integrated with other systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM), databases and marketing systems to gather data about visitor interest. For instance, the multi-touch screens might register significant interest in a particular type of exhibit, providing the kind of information that helps when planning future events.
What is multi-user, multi-touch?
One major benefit of touch technology is that we are already familiar with it through using our own smartphones and other devices. We know that pinching our fingers or swiping the screen will change the content that we can see. Multi-touch technology takes this highly intuitive approach a step further, creating an interactive multi-user experience that can be applied to all kinds of environments.
Ranging from 21.5 to 55 inches (55cm to 140cm), multi-user, multi-touch displays make an immediate impact, often housed in beautifully designed table-tops, although systems can also be wall-mounted. Once users start to interact with them – simply using their fingertips, with over 60 simultaneous touch points – they can explore a wealth of information. In essence, a multi-user, multi-touch AV system is a smart screen, linked to a computer underneath or behind it and in turn able to connect to the Internet and other systems. The technology has evolved considerably in the past couple of years, with screens now able to display a fast and consistently high-quality response, even in high footfall areas.
Of course, any technology is only as good as its execution. Our five tips (see “Five Steps” box, left) are based on the work we’ve carried out with some of the world’s leading designers, installers and users of our multi-touch displays and systems.
The right multi-touch system, complete with content that captures visitors’ interest, can create a compelling, interactive experience, while at the same time generating new revenue opportunities and helping venues to compete in an increasingly multimedia world.