Having built smaller, temporary interactive exhibits for the Denver Botanic Gardens in recent years, I was excited to take on the task of rebuilding most of the permanent interactive infrastructure that's lived in the Science Pyramid since it opened about 5 years prior. I worked directly with the DBG exhibition and tech teams to concept, prototype, and execute new interactive apps that explore the importance of water to people and ecologies.
Our efforts resulted in twelve unique interactive experiences that are configured by a custom web-based content management system. This web app allows DBG staff to upload and publish content, monitor uptime status for each computer, and configure a show control schedule that turns computers and LED lighting on and off every day. This extra infrastructure saves electricity and extends the life of the hardware.
One especially challenging yet satisfying aspect of the project was that the new software was built for the existing hardware. It felt good to breathe new life into older electronics, thus reducing e-waste and pushing the underpowered computers to provide a smooth and responsive user experience.
Welcome Home: Meet Your Habitat explores the ways in which the lives of Colorado's living things are deeply intertwined through landscapes and the finite resources we share. Your home is not only part of a human neighborhood, it's part of your habitat, one you share with millions of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms. Welcome Home combines natural objects and human artifacts with interactive digital stories to reveal the surprising and often invisible depths of our bonds with nature.
Need a breather? Pull up a comfy chair in the Habitat Lounge to learn how organisms adapt to their habitats and explore easy ways to adapt your own behavior to support the health of our shared home.
This exhibition is funded in part by a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
There are 5 "Boulders" in the exhibit; each has a touchscreen interface that sits below a wall of physical artifacts that were collected and fabricated by the DBG team. As visitors navigate the digital educational content, synchronized LED lighting animations highlight the physcial objects above. Each Boulder tells a different story about how humans, plants, and animals interact with the precious water sources of Colorado's various ecosystems.
The 6 "Haptic Pylons" feature interactive slideshows that are controlled by large weighted knobs. With this minimalist interaction, visitors can scrub forward and backward through videos and text, smoothly traversing the content at their own pace. The videos are mostly comprised of timelapse and high-framerate captures of natural Colorado scenes that serve to illustrate water's important role in our local ecologies. Like all of the Denver Botanic Gardens' educational content, the Pylon apps are bilingual by default.
Not pictured in this recap is a slideshow app that plays a content loop on a screen near the entrance of the Science Pyramid. This app is also powered by the CMS, allowing DBG staff to quickly update content and messaging on the digital billboard.
Beyond the digital components, the DBG exhibitions staff did a great job with all of the new construction, delicate showcases of natural objects, and tons of educational content. There's a lot to learn at the Welcome Home Exhibit!
The Science Pyramid
Images courtesy of EUA
- Denver Botanic Gardens