A (hyper-) video based System for multiuser presentations in special exhibitions

Peter Hoffmann, Germany

A challenge for museums is the composition of special exhibitions. This includes the mentoring in terms of defining the topic with the right content as well as a suitable presentation design as the documentation. In particular the last issue is important because of the limited time the special exhibition exists. Without documentation all information around the exhibit gets lost. Digital media and presentation systems provide a new enhancing dimension of documentation.

The standard of documentation is the printed catalogue often used as a base when it goes to digital media. Typically hypermedia is used for documentation in the internet, usually text-based with hyperlinks. Thus preserving the layout and appearance of the exhibit gets usually lost. Here we are convinced that media like video or even hyper- video significantly improve the documentation.

The “Deutsche Schiffahrtsmuseum” (GermanMuseumfor Shipping) inBremerhaven, knows about those challenges. For the special exhibition “Zeit auf See” (Time on Sea) a new form of documentation was developed in cooperation with the Centre for Computing and Communication TechnologyBremen. The idea was to develop a tool for a hypervideo-based documentation of special exhibitions. First installed on a Multitouch table within the special exhibit the application could later be used as documentation accessible via an internet link. Several aspects therefore had to be kept in mind:

  • · The hardware of the Multitouch table had to be unobtrusive and fit the appearance of the exhibit.
  • · The presentation layout had to fit to the general design of the Schiffahrtsmuseum.
  • · The interaction design had to be intuitive to support the heterogeneous target groups.
  • · Furthermore an intuitive navigation structure had to be found.

The idea for using hypervideo presenting the temporary exhibit was to provide beside the information about the exhibition also a spatial experience of it. As this can only hardly be reached using text, visual media like photographs and images were discussed. The result was a documentation using videos with panoramic photographs from different perspectives. These video clips were produced in HDR quality (HighDynamicRange) out of 360° spherical panoramic photographs. This offered an inspiring impression of the inside of the museum and the interior design of the exhibition space.

From the panoramic videos links to related information were required. The solution was to embed links to detailed information about single objects in the video itself. This means the user can “click” directly on an object for information about it. So the metaphor of hyperlinks was integrated into video.

As the new tool was planned to be used on a Multitouch table in the exhibition an intuitive interaction design was required. Main focus here was the question, who controls the video in case  more than one person simultaneously use the application.

An application covering the different above mentioned aspects was developed and  evaluated by user  studies in the museum. An impression of the implementation is given in the two figures below. The paper will provide details about the approach and findings from the user studies.