Energy Explorers: COSI Multi-Touch Table


COSI Project Team

Jennifer Barlup, Project Manager
John Shaw, Director of Experience Production

ACCAD GRA Researcher
Michael Andereck, M.S. Candidate, Computer Science & Engineering

ACCAD Faculty Advisor
Alan Price, ACCAD | Design


As COSI began work on a new exhibition for 2013 entitled Energy Explorers, one of the exhibit ideas that quickly rose to the top of the list was an interactive multi-touch table. This idea came about as part of COSI's conscious effort to create experiences that can be updated and evolve to fit visitors’ needs. The multi-touch table will be used to access recent news articles and videos that COSI will continually update.

Never content with basic interaction, COSI wanted to make this exhibit more than just a touchscreen. The project team produced 3-dimensional “pucks” that can be placed on the screen to trigger on-screen content. Each puck represents a different energy source—such as coal, natural gas, or wind—and has a glyph on the bottom that is read by a series of cameras behind the Multi-Taction LCD screen to trigger articles and videos about that fuel source. The screens (two 42-inch panels aligned end-to-end) are divided into 4 content zones (Ohio News, Facts vs Myths, Innovations, and How it Works). The content pulled up by the puck is dependent on the zone in which it is placed. Once an article or video is selected it can be manipulated on screen by using fingers to play/pause, scroll, re-size, or slide across the screen to share with a friend. Directional speakers (and some software magic) make sure the audio for the video is heard only on the side of the screen where it is being watched.

Energy Explorers has been two years in the making and focuses on how energy powers the world around us—from the transportation we take, to the products we buy, to the ways we live and work. Visitors will learn where energy comes from, how energy powers the world, and why the energy choices they make are choices that matter. The exhibition, which opens to the public July 20th, 2013 will contain 27 interactive experiences. It is COSI's first new permanent exhibition gallery in thirteen years.