History comes to life with the technology of ‘touch’
A company called Ideum creates high-tech, interactive “touch tables” that are being used in several exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and other museums.
Interactive museum exhibits used to mean dinosaur models that roared when you pressed a button.
Now, thanks to technology companies like Ideum of Corrales, New Mexico, it means hardware and software for a “touch table” that depicts an entire city in South America as it appeared in 1531 — all in 3-D.
Ideum makes such high-tech tables for museum exhibits around the world, with help from Wells FargoTM.
In business for 16 years, Ideum got its start making a 50-inch table. Now, the company is expanding — literally — with 100-inch models that have 50 or more touch points.
In the past year, it produced three exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution, including The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Visitors surround the interactive exhibit’s 84-inch multi-touch table, which shows a 3-D reconstruction of the ancient city of Cusco, the center of the Inka civilization in South America in the 16th Century.
Each end of the table has a “flythrough” station, where users can choose from among six different bird’s-eye tours of the city. Museum visitors can tap icons to initiate 20 different videos and six photo galleries.
“We try to create experiences that are seamlessly integrated and compelling,” says Jim Spadaccini, Ideum’s CEO and creative director. “We work closely with museums, nonprofits, and socially responsible companies to create memorable visitor experiences.”
Ideum, a Wells Fargo client since 2002, has grown from 10 employees a few years ago to more than 40 today.
“Wells Fargo’s help has been significant,” says Jim, “helping us with create a credit line to help us achieve bigger and better things. They’ve been there for us every step of the way.”
Donna L. Lopez, principal relationship manager in Business Banking, says Ideum is “doing terrific work, and we’re excited to continue our 13-year relationship with them.”
Other Ideum projects
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which drew more than 6 million visitors last year, contains an Ideum exhibit that lets visitors build their own module for an international space station.
Ideum also has designed exhibits for numerous museums and agencies, including:
- NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
- The National Park Service at several of its parks.
- Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
- National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Jim said the Inka exhibit was a dream project that included working with researchers from the University of Tarragona in Tarragona, Spain; and the hardware platform at Ideum; and visiting Peru with a Smithsonian team to study archaeological and architectural details.
“We are looking to expand and improve the quality in everything we do,” he said. “We take pride in the exhibits we create with museums, educational institutions, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. And we’re always looking to have that seamless digital experience expand to libraries, retail spaces, and more. We think there’s a great future.”