Yesterday, I got to attend the official opening of the new "Tech Test Zone" at the Tech Museum in San Jose, along with fifty or so other technologists, museum professionals and press. The Tech Test Zone is where the public can interact with the latest in interactive technologies, from eye tracking software to "digital foam", and provide valuable feedback to the designers as they further refine these exhibits and tools.
It was fun getting the first look at the Tech Test Zone. There were five exhibits available to interact with when I was there, including:
- "Pixel" Eye Tracking Technology: The visitor wears a set of goggles and looks at different video screens. Meanwhile, others can see what the visitor is looking at, literally seeing through his eyes.
- Digital Foam: A Pressure Sensitive Surface: Like clay, Digital Foam lets you sculpt 3D models with your hands using sensors that update in real-time the digital model.
- Sketch-A-Race: A User-Generated Augmented Reality Game: Draw and then drive on your own racetrack in this augmented reality game.
- Thermal Camera : Thermal cameras in the room capture infrared light, and display on a big display the thermal images of the visitors.
- Body Zoom Technology: Gestural Interface: A detailed gigapixel image can be zoomed and panned using your body gestures.
While none of these exhibits were "perfect" yet — the body zoom technology never really zoomed properly for me — that is kind of the point: to get the public interacting with works-in-progress and giving valuable feedback to the designers. It's rather brave of the Tech Museum to allow these beta-versions of exhibits to be banged on by kids and adults. But this more user-driven design I think will lead to more effective and engaging exhibits in the end.
You can check out the "Tech Test Zone" and the other great exhibits at the Tech Museum everyday at 201 South Market Street, San Jose.