Touch table technology takes you on journey to the surface of Mars

The renowned European Space Agency is at the forefront of space science and research. When they needed to promote their programme for Mars exploration they asked Ouno Creative to design and build an ambitious digital story-telling experience.

The Erasmus Centre is located at ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The centres extensive facilities and hosted events attract scientists, engineers, managers, researchers, politicians, media, students and teachers from around the world.

At it’s heart is the 900sqm HighBay Exhibition area – a showcase for the Directorate of Human Spaceflight’s programmes and missions. The challenge for Ouno Creative is to design and develop a modular exhibition space that uses digital technology to inform visitors about three separate ESA missions to Mars. The visitor experience needs to highlight both the economic and scientific benefits that each mission delivered.

Ouno is working closely with the ESA team to create a three-sided exhibition space that looks like the interior of a Mars habitat, each wall housing a large recessed window looking out onto a Martian landscape. The panoramic vista runs seamlessly across all three windows and features robotic rovers, dust storms and a manned Mars base.

Mars at your fingertips

At the centre of the exhibition space is a touch table console that visitors use to control the graphics displayed on the three windows. When a circular control ‘puck’ is inserted into a round slot on the table it starts the interactive content. By rotating the puck the user can access the navigation panels and select one of the three featured missions.

Upon selecting a Mission the Martian landscape seen through the habitat windows is replaced by a new set of infographic-rich data screens which feature touch activated timelines, videos, image galleries, maps, audio narrations, 3D and 2D visualisations and more.

The touch tables futuristic interface design is built using the powerful Intuiface software and incorporates Tangible Object Recognition functionality so users can enjoy the tactile experience of using the circular ESA branded control puck.

In normal use the plan is to have a trained ESA staff member run the touch table interface as part of a planned presentation to hosted audiences. However, the touch table and the Intuiface software is robust enough to run with no supervision for 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

Scalable solution

The Mars experience is designed to be modular and scalable both in terms of software and stand structure. If the Mars experience proves successful there are plans to produce a further two exhibition displays on the themes of Low Earth Orbit and returning to the Moon. Therefore Ouno is developing a library of templated layouts and assets within the Intuiface CMS that can be exported and reused.

The Mars exhibition stand is also modular, constructed from the lightweight high quality Aluvision aluminium system. Behind the three walls is an enclosed secure storage space holding the powerful PC, spare parts and the integrated PA system.

Fast to erect and disassemble, the Aluvision system provides the option of making the Mars experience truly portable. This opens up an opportunity to take the exhibition on the road.

Our Role:
/ Research
/ Concepts
/ UX and UI
/ Development (Intuiface)
/ 3D modelling and animation
/ Tangible Object Recognition
/ Asset creation
/ Stand design, build and install
/ Exhibition graphics
/ Training and support

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