The AAM's Emerging Museum Professionals group was recently invited to a tour of the Potion Design studio. Founded by MIT graduates Jared Schiffman and Phillip Tiongson, Potion specializes in high-tech interactives.
Normally, I would equate high-tech with high maintenance. For me, the word "high-tech" would evoke visions of touch screens that need to be cleaned hourly, push buttons that get stuck and endless re-booting but Potion has developed an almost maintenance-free solution. There are no loose pieces, no touch screens, trackballs, mice or push buttons.
My favorite was The Limud Tables created for the Museum at Eldridge Street. They are just solid wood tables with an overhead projector that is out of the visitors' reach. You simply navigate through the information on the LCD screen by waving your finger over the images. The projectors have motion sensors so there's no touch screen to get jammed up with sticky fingers. There's also a great activity for kids where they get to design the stained glass window and decorate it with different colors. No loose pieces to get lost! The program is designed so that museum staff can easily update the information themselves so there's no need to keep re-printing graphics. According to Jared Schiffman, they use off the shelf products so if, for instance, a projector breaks it can be quickly replaced. The projector bulbs will need to be replaced about every three months. That's a maintenance job that I can definitely handle!