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On-Demand Video + CMS + Interactive Input For Museum? 131 131

remolacha writes "I've been given the task of tech chief for a biggish art museum (1,300 m^2, or about 13,000 sq ft) in Spain. The museum's designers want 20 'terminals' that will offer on-demand video and interactive content. The terminals' content will change with the exhibits; many will have touchscreens. More interesting forms of input are planned as well (floor sensors, big buttons). It's all on one floor, and the floors are raised, so I can run cabling and set up floor ethernet jacks. Max cable run is 60m / 190ft. The museum may expand to 4 times its projected size once open, by comandeering other floors in the building. To give an idea of where the designers heads are, they were talking about a massive DVD changer in a closet somewhere. I am thinking an intranet running a web server with a CMS and Flash media server, terminals running Firefox in kiosk mode. I'd love to do everything on Linux. Does anyone have experience with a setup like this, better ideas, or advice?"
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On-Demand Video + CMS + Interactive Input For Museum?

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  • Check these guys out (Score:5, Informative)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:55PM (#29987400) Homepage

    Check these guys out [kersonic.com]: They are specialized in pretty much exactly what you need.

    You definitely want to use sound technologies, streaming, etc. Don't underestimate your audience, your average user tends to be really clueless, which means your terminals have to be rock-solid.

    Congrats on landing what sounds like a cool project!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:59PM (#29987472)

    maybe hire someone that can do the job?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:16PM (#29987750)

      maybe his resume included "slashdot" as a skill

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:23PM (#29987850)

      Agreed. I've been doing this kind of museum work for over 20 years and currently can't get hired because I'm too experienced (read they don't want to pay a living wage.) And I've seen way too many IT people with no exhibit background fuck things up completely with excessive levels of complexity. Bottom line, if you don't know what you're doing, get out of the way and let someone qualified do it.

      Yes, I'm bitter. With damned good reason.

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:33PM (#29987970)

        Maybe you should consider adjusting what you consider to be a 'living wage' cause I'm pretty sure something is more than nothing.

        You are bitter because you've been replaced by someone who better fits the needs of their employers. Your fault, not anyone else's.

        As someone who is the highest paid employee at the company I'm working at, which is a struggling company, the FIRST thing I did when I found out about the financial situation is said 'a pay cut is FAR better than a layoff, talk to me before you do it!'. Since then, 4 people have been released and I'm still here.

        As a general rule, people who act like you really aren't that qualified, just arrogant.

        • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:36PM (#29988014)

          Hey, I like guys like him. I got my first job out of University because the other guy wouldn't budge on the wage.

        • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:35AM (#29994572)

          Most people don't seem to realize that they have the option, though. When the writing was on the wall at my last job, I went on a shortened work week almost immediately. From 40h/week to 36h/week. I made it clear to HR that I'd rather talk pay cut than layoff, and ended up taking a voluntary wage freeze in addition to reduced hours.

          The result? It was a given that they'd be shutting down our location... it was with a global company that employs almost 80,000 worldwide, and closing us down in order to relocate those jobs to Hyderabad and Morocco ended up saving the company several tens of millions of $/year... but out of a graduated layoff of 2,200 people over two years, I was one of the last 5 people walked out the door before they shut off the lights and locked the building. I was able to keep a good job, and get lots of good resume experience doing things like training my replacements, and taking over management positions as they were vacated, because I played ball with HR's attempts to save money.

          And that extra experience has served me very well, too... it helped get my foot in the door and I'm now making more money than I was previously. Oh, and it's a government job, to boot.

      • by thygate (1590197) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:03AM (#29992050)
        They took our derp !!
      • by z0mb13e (1492637) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:06AM (#29992354)
        Aw didums...

        So at some point you mustn't have known how to do all this stuff right? Or were you born with the knowledge?

        I think the GP is on to a good thing and sounds like the kind of direction I would go if I were lucky enough to be working on the project.

        A web server serving up pages and vids with kiosk mode firefox on Linux sounds like the way to go. I have worked on similar and seen various options for resetting things (the Kiosks) if they get messed up or abused, from simple restart scripts to hardware watchdog timers to automatic re-imaging. But don't get too hung up on the details - you would be amazed at what often lurks behind the public face of these sorts of things - some of the interactive TV systems I have worked on are a real eye opener. Cable runs aren't an issue at that length - if it gets over 100meters just chain a few strategically placed switches together.

        There are plenty of Kiosk hardware manufacturers around the world and they should be able to provide some insight from installations they have worked on.

        Might be worth talking to other museums to find out what they did and how.

        I think I might know a Bitter Anonymous Multimedia Installation person who might be interested in a consulting role - there is a small introduction fee...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:22PM (#29988552)

      Thank you. That is all I could think of as well.

      I've been hired for things I'm not really qualified for, and it always ends up being a disaster. Better to pass on a great job you don't know how to do (or even, from the sounds of it, don't know how to find out how) than be fired from that job for gross incompetence.

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:03PM (#29987542)
    Ed Tannenbaum at et-arts.com He's been doing museum video for about 25 years.
  • Buy it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:05PM (#29987578)

    Get a quote, and buy it. When it doesn't work, scream at the vendor. Leave the tinkertoys at home.

    • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:27PM (#29987902) Homepage
      I agree. If you can, have Akamai [akamai.com] do it. You will save yourself a thousand man-years of headaches. They have people in Spain, BTW. Also, AFAIK Flash servers are 1) proprietary and have licensing costs, and 2) run only on Windows. Somebody would end up having to be the local FMS expert, and at least one other person would have to be competent for when the expert is not available.
      • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:36PM (#29988010) Homepage

        2) run only on Windows

        This is not true, I run Flash Media Server on Linux at home for development purposes. It's supported out of the box that way, though the scripts are RedHat specific (though it took me all of 5 minutes to fix that).

        You don't really need FMS for this though; users are not likely to be jumping around in the video or needing variable bit rates changed up on the fly. A simple Apache install will do fine.

        Definitely recommend Flash for the front end, a museum isn't going to want user controls which look like typical computer controls; particularly an art museum.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:13PM (#29987710)

    You may want to have a look at www.ookl.org.uk, a system for engaging people, often kids, in art and museum content. On OOKL, people use mobiles and computers to curate, share and present their own collections of material collected from the cultural venue (or world at large). I think OOKL's story-centric approach is very interesting.

    Having been involved in OOKL early on I know all the server tech is Linux based. Give them a call -- they are a friendly bunch!

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:14PM (#29987718)

    In a fixed environment like a museum put you media out on the machines and use the network for administration and control. All streaming solutions place to much stress of the network for very little reason.

    • by j-stroy (640921) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:05PM (#29989080)
      This is a read only system for twenty clients Sounds like a routine networking task with standard file sharing.

      bulletproof, free and simple and centralized

      build the webpages and address the files from the network shares.

      people see HTML and automatically assume they have to get it and all the content from a webserver.

      that is just creating headaches and extra process. as is the parents suggestion. if your LAN poops on video, buy modern gear.

      buy a good network switch to isolate the terminal feeds if you really have a bandwidth concern.
  • by Dr Faustus 60 (886309) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:14PM (#29987726)
    You could just leverage all those iPhones, iTouches and the coming storm of Andriod phones... Build all your content on a mobile-phone delivery system. That kind of software-based solution is really much more scalable than you're talking about. I don't know if there are systems like that in Spain yet (maybe Layar?) but you can build that content on SCVNGRs platform right now: http://www.scvngr.com/museums/ [scvngr.com]
  • LinuxMCE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by happyslayer (750738) <david@isisltd.com> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:15PM (#29987744)

    I've been looking at LinuxMCE [linuxmce.org] for my own home system. It looks like a really good fit for what you want: Media, touchscreen controls, multiple outputs. Plus, it's a thin-client system, so once you decide on a terminal setup, you can repeat ad nauseum.

    I would also point out that this may be a good setup for the expansion you're alluding to. For example, you could set up different accounts for either different works or different artists. Log all the terminals in one room to the account under that artist, and you could have the media for all the different pieces queued up on the menu.

    Hmmm..if you ever had a Salvador Dali [wikipedia.org] exhibit, you could have some Dark Side of the Moon playing on the sound system...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:16PM (#29987752)

    Try www.helius.com. Does exactly what you need.

  • Sounds cool (Score:3, Informative)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:23PM (#29987842)
    Except for the DVD-player part -- it seems like it would be more reliable and easier to update if you just streamed video off of a hard drive. Some airlines are using Linux-based LCD terminals [linux.com] in every seat back for in-flight entertainment so it is definitely doable. What you want to do sounds pretty similar, just with slightly larger displays.
    • by Acapulco (1289274) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:48PM (#29988156)
      A bit offtopic, I know, but, it's curious that you mention it, because on a recent trip to Japan, on my way back by AirCanada the movie system crashed at some point in the flight and it showed some MySQL errors. It was really a surprise for me to see this, since I would have thought they used a propietary system or something. Apparently they don't.
  • by telchine (719345) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:23PM (#29987844)

    I did a project like this about 10 years ago for a museum in London. We used pretty much exactly the same technology as you except we used Windows and it was IE in kiosk mode and not Firefox, and it was Macromedia Generator, not Flash Media Server.

    Don't worry too much about what technical things the designers are saying, they don't understand the technology like you do and they can only present ideas from the few technical things they understand. As long as the end user sees what the designers want them to see, then they'll be happy. Use the best technology you know how to use.

    I would disagree with the poster above regarding using sound technologies. You have to remember that museums can be pretty noisy places, especially during high profile exhibitions and on weekends (if you've been there during working hours on a workday, don't think that's as busy as it gets!). The background noise can prevent a user from properly hearing the audio, and having audio too loud can disturb and irritate other visitors.

    Sure, add audio if you think it'll enhance the product but don't make the mistake of having an interface that needs audio to function. Get some of your testers to use the kiosk for the first time without the sound on. if they can't use it then you need to fix that.

    Also remember museums are visited by tourists from other countries, you'll probably have to have translations from some of the major languages if your kiosk relies on language to be used (if you use spoken languages, you'll have to have subtitles as well because of sound difficulties)

    You might be able to reduce costs if the museum agrees to a sponsorship deal. Manufacturers may be willing to provide the touch screens and/or other hardware if they get a "powered by" logo on the kiosk.

  • by peterofoz (1038508) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:23PM (#29987846) Homepage Journal
    This was a fairly early implementation of a virtual museum with a fun/scary game when the T-Rex comes calling ala Night In The Museum. Use this as a minimum standard since my kids played with this about 10 years ago. Might also look around/prototype your museum and interactions in Second Life.
  • by rpp3po (641313) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:28PM (#29987920)
    In my opinion thin clients with kiosk mode browsers, video served as h264 Flash over cheap gigabit ethernet is really the most economic, thus flexible, way to go. Your future interfaces (floor sensors, etc.) can be made to interact with Flash by just mapping them to simple KeyEvents over a simple PS/2-USB adapter, just like you get from a keyboard.
    I would dump the DVD changer though and just import all content onto a big NAS array.
  • by Peganthyrus (713645) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:32PM (#29987954) Homepage

    Why not just have consumer DVD players adapted for touchscreens, and stick them in kiosks? My day job involves working on a kiosk put out by a division of the Boston Museum of Science, and it's completely self-contained; so is most everything on the floor.

    Burn a new DVD for the new exhibit, dump it in the kiosks near it, you're done, no finicky wiring to set up. KISS.

  • by operator_error (1363139) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:34PM (#29987980)

    What else can I say? Use a LAMP server? Debian, or Ubuntu, or CentOS is popular in this space. In fact you really don't need to operate your own server even. There's nothing magic about your spec., and people host stuff with waaaay more than 20 terminals' in mind. Plus Drupal gives you a decent content creation/editing workflow.

    Also you might find its multilingual capabilities, both for the staff as well as the visitors, to be very good.

    Can I contact you for this development gig? Using Drupal on LAMP, your budget will go far. Even common things like statistics modules will demonstrate to stakeholders whether it's working or not, what is popular. etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:39PM (#29988758)

      I was thinking the same thing: Drupal as the CMS, FireFox in kiosk mode, embedded flash for complex interactivity, flash flv's for video, and good ol' XHTML/CSS/PHP for the moderate interactivity.

      This collection provides a pretty sophisticated range from butt-simple text and menus, to video, to complex and engaging interactive graphics.

      I'd like to visit that museum.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:35PM (#29987992)

    Sounds like a project for a "digital signage" professional.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:35PM (#29987994)

    you should talk to the folks at obscura digital, they do amazing work like this on a massive scale.

  • by arbiterveritas (1617099) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:42PM (#29988080)
    A digital signage network would be a better idea, especially in the long run. Check out Popstar Networks. [ www.popstarnetworks.com ]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:44PM (#29988092)

    I would consider using regular DVD players at each terminal. If you author your DVD's in a fashion that allow the use of a remote control's number keys, you can place keys around a regular TV (think ATM). You press the key, you get a predefined action.

    No OS (well, not one you can recognize), very dependable, cheap to implement, easy to troubleshoot (via a special DVD that tests keys, display, etc), cheap (DVD players are under $100, 19" displays are $100, breakout kits for remotes are cheap ($50)), and authoring DVDs is a well understood process.

    Good Luck!

  • random suggestions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fred fleenblat (463628) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:47PM (#29988136) Homepage

    Find out who is going to be creating the content that will be shown, talk to them about their needs as if you care, but really pay attention when they talk about what software they use to do the authoring. then research that and find out what formats it supports. Maybe it's all flash like you said, but if someone is expecting quicktime or silverlight, you'd better find that out now instead of six months from now after you've ordered 100 linux boxes.

    The cd/dvd jukebox idea is terrible. Loading a DVD will take more time than anyone is willing to sit around and wait, furthermore what if five people at five different kiosks want to look at content located on 5 different DVDs? That level of DVD changer is way more expensive than management realizes. A big rack of sata disks under control of a NAS server is probably your best bet. Also, I would worry less about RAID and more about being able to quickly cold swap a failed NAS server.

    A "would be nice" is a way for people to walk around and interact with the exhibits without having to repeatedly press the "English" or "Spanish" or "French" buttons on each and every touchscreen. I hate that. They should be able to just grab an rfid token out of a bucket and walk around...and the whole place seems to be in their native language. Hey, maybe have a mic and the kiosk listens for common words in each language and acts accordingly.

    Museums swap exhibits in and out fairly often. Have some low-effort way for the curators to swap the kiosk content to match. Maybe the content is tied to an inventory number and the curators can just enter a (semi) admin password, then the inventory number and set the default content right there. the general idea is that the last thing you want is to have to spend the rest of your life assigning content to kiosks.

    I'd look into something wireless for the floor sensors/big buttons, like hacking into a bluetooth mouse. Then the curators can move things around a bit, change batteries, even redo the pairing if they want to move buttons between exhibits.

    If you're thinking 100 or more kiosks in the long run, I'd look into PXE booting or similar just to avoid any OS install/upgrade/patch labor being multiplied by 100.

    Firewall! Last thing you want is some 2 y/o kid to type some random museum words like "nude" or "maplethorp" into a browser and get 20M pages of confusing things on google images while their prudish american parents have a little conservative republican freak out.

    Best of luck with this. In spite of the tone of my comments I'm quite jealous. This sounds like one of the most fun projects anyone could ever get!

    • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:23PM (#29989264) Journal

      Some good points there. I'd also find out what kind of software the exhibit designers are likely to adopt into the exhibit. Some 'cool' software used in technology museums (face recognition, games, etc) is unstable, requires dedicated servers, specific environments and is a general nightmare.

      I'd go with something more than a bluetooth mouse for the buttons. Hacking in an industrial use environment often results in continuous support calls.

      Microcontrollers are a great way to go for any less complex exhibits if you have the option. They don't have the overhead of the full kiosk systems so they seem to be more stable and their minimal operating systems seem to make them resistant to standard attacks.

    • by citylivin (1250770) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:50PM (#30001080)

      "Firewall! Last thing you want is some 2 y/o kid to type some random museum words like "nude" or "maplethorp" into a browser and get 20M pages of confusing things"

      Thats funny, i was just discussing this today. Firefox has a really nice plugin designed by the boston museum which does a really nice kiosk and you can whitelist domains.

      https://www.mozdevgroup.com/clients/bm/ [mozdevgroup.com]

      Seems as though its the brooklyn museum. Doesn't matter... It works well.

  • by brian.stinar (1104135) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:59PM (#29988284) Homepage


    I highly recommend "Ideum." (http://www.ideum.com/) They are based near Albuquerque, New Mexico and specialize in EXACTLY that sort of thing. I interviewed with this company during a job search I went through a few months ago, but after receiving an offer I decided to work with another small company that provided a better offer instead. Ideum has some cool table top, and desk top museum exhibits in place for major museums already. The founder, Jim Spadaccini, is an extremely friendly and nice guy.

    They have a general software framework in place built using ActionScript and C++ to make building custom, interactive, touch-screen programs very fast. Their process was quite impressive, and seemed well designed to segregate the work between the hard core coder and the hard core artist in order to quickly make an impressive exhibit. One of the coolest products they were developing was called "GestureWorks." It is designed to make programming multi-touch displays very easy in ActionScript. As a programmer, I can add an eventListener to an object for "throw away" or for "click and hold."

    If you give them a call, tell Jim that Brian Stinar referred you! If he gets busy enough, maybe I'll get a consulting or contracting gig on the side out of it.

    I hope this help,

          -Brian J. Stinar-

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:00PM (#29988296)

    Use Sun Sunray's as the terminals, they use 4 watts of power, are cheap, and arnt useful to thieves. Run Sun VDI to create the VMs on a VMware ESX or VirtualBox backend (or both). This solution allows you to centralise your infrastructure, futureproof your terminals, and also allows the flexibility of Linux, Windows, or something else to be pushed to the terminals.

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:00PM (#29988308) Homepage

    Don't hire an IT company. This is not primarily an IT job.

    You want someone who can design interfaces, design interesting exhibits and instructional interactivities, and who can work with technical people to make it happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:11PM (#29988424)

    Why don't you just let someone who knows what they're doing do this job?

  • by nauseum_dot (1291664) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:13PM (#29988448)
    Another idea might be to look at VLC for your streaming server with either IP set top boxes with a web based interface (LAMP). I know that Amino can provide IPTV set top boxes that will work work H.264 and should be able HD picture quality without having to setup a bunch of thin stations. This would allow you to use HD TVs, but it might cost you some interactivity by not having a button to push. The advantage would be that the hardware to run this would not cost as much.
    Currently, I use VLC to stream a channel that is on a loop from our headend to our customers because I don't want to have to deal with DVD's, etc.
    http://aminocom.com/ [aminocom.com]
    http://www.videolan.org/vlc/streaming.html [videolan.org]
  • by virtualXTC (609488) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:16PM (#29988482) Homepage
    Why would you use DVDs? just rip everything to a hard drive so that if there's ever a need for multiple clients to access it, your system doesn't freak out. What if you wanted to also display the content on the external web?

    Other than that I'm not sure what's so hard about your project. Where I use to work had a museum, [broadinstitute.org] and they set something up something similar using multiple large flat-panels displays linked to one another with several remote controls [broadinstitute.org] for user interaction. If you contact them I'm sure they'd be willing to share some insights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:20PM (#29988520)

    You need to talk to the folks at the Natural History Museum in the UK as they have just done what you are trying to achieve for their new Darwin Center. No need to reinvent the wheel, learn from those that have been there and done that. Pay them a visit and see what works and what does not.

  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:21PM (#29988530)
    I am all for web based, but you need to use Mozilla Prism, not Firefox. http://prism.mozilla.com/ [mozilla.com]
    Firefox is too easy for some clever punk to trick into closing down or to install plugins into though it probably does have a Kiosk mode switch but I am too lazy to Google that.
  • HP Thin Clients (Score:4, Informative)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:26PM (#29988612)
    HP has thin clients built specifically for this purpose. They run Debian 4.1.1 with KDE 3 and can be integrated with touch screen.
  • DNA Lounge (Score:2, Informative)

    by kylebarbour (1239920) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:41PM (#29988794)

    The DNA Lounge in San Francisco, run by Mozilla and XEmacs' one-time developer and hacker Jamie Zawinski, has done some similar things. You can check out their code and documentation here:

    http://www.dnalounge.com/backstage/src/ [dnalounge.com]
    http://www.dnalounge.com/backstage/src/kiosk/ [dnalounge.com]

    In short, he's created secure Linux internet kiosks, streaming broadcasts, cameras, and scripts to automate much of it - in short, what you're trying to do but in nightclub form.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @08:52PM (#29988936)

    Unfortunately, you say touch-screen kiosk, and I realize that I manufacture something meant to be better than them (super attractive, reliable, durable, small, light-weight, insanely powerful, run for ages without any maintenance). But you're not here for a sales pitch, so I'll just declare the conflict of interest up-front.

    FireFox in kiosk mode is fine, but like any browser in kiosk mode, you're a fewer layers deeper than you need to be, so the reliability kind of goes to hell. It's just software running with multiple users. But ultimately, until you've had one of them sitting on your desk running for 12 months with zero problems, it's just a maintenance headache.

    The best advice I can give to you is to ensure that at each "terminal" you have a real computer -- something with actual horse-power (quad-core), and real peripheral capacity. If you've got something like a quad-core at each location, with a real motherboad and proper USB/serial options, buttons and screens and software and sensors will just plug-in really easily. As a real computer, you can upgrade it as necessary, and unlike a single-board machine, you won't have any unforseen problems.

    We're also at one of those points in technology where real computers now get instant jumps in performance from GPUs as software flexes them. But you have to have a GPU for that.

    Once you have real computers connected everywhere, you can do anything. Upgrade them down the line, or sell the old ones, or donate them to charity for the write-off. Oh yeah, and repairs when someone smashes it with a hammer can be done at your corner Best-Buy in an emergency.

  • by PingXao (153057) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:03PM (#29989064)

    I can't count the number of museums I've visited where the whizbang kiosks/interactive displays/demonstrations were out of order. From the lowliest county historical society exhibition to the Smithsonian in DC. Whatever you do, keep an up-to-date set of troubleshooting and repair procedures as you go along. Something easy to follow so that even a simpleton volunteer will be able to get the thing back up and running.

  • by MacFury (659201) <me@johnk r a m l i c h .com> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:06PM (#29989092) Homepage
    I used to make kiosks for museums and other public areas. Do not underestimate how much abuse these things get from the public. I would highly recommend researching kiosk enclosures and ensuring that the hardware, touch screen and pc, will fit in whatever enclosure suits your needs best. Our kiosks were constantly moved around. Access to ethernet wasn't always an option so we often went wireless. Many times we would develop software so that it stored all content locally on the kiosk. We would create an admin program that would push any content changes to the devices. The devices were then able to run even if the network/internet went down. It also gives you a speed boost since you aren't streaming 20 video feeds across ethernet/wireless. Try finding a local interactive media company that has kiosk experience. It will save you headaches in the long run, even if you only pay them to meet with you once or twice to hash out your ideas and ask for recommendations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:21PM (#29989248)

    Check out the Bright Sign series of devices from Roku... they're used in many museums and tourist centers: http://rokukiosk.com/

  • by dhammabum (190105) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @09:38PM (#29989458)

    I remember the best times were had with things we could *do*, not just look at static pictures with a voice-over. At the Powerhouse museum in Sydney they had a senses exhibit where you stuck your hand in a box and try to work out what was in it. At another museum we put together a full size 2d dinosaur puzzle that was 2M high.

    How about doing something with the OLPC / Sugar? They could hand them out at the entrance and collect them on the way out, why have static stations? You could use them to find stuff at the site, you could 'advertise' demos or lectures.

    Have a what-to-do diagnostic key - the kids would enter their age, interests, who they are with, etc and it could return a list of suggested exhibits or whatever with directions.

    Or something done entirely on the web - why do you have to physically attend the site?

  • by globalsnake (1345027) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:41PM (#29990510)
    Email me jgonzalez@renasi.net. Before you try to get terminals and so forth, think of what they really need? Is it mainly high quality video, will they want to display a sort of interactive art that is crystal clear or is this a kiosk with a vga display. Before your start coming up with a solution see what the end experience is supposed to be. Streaming or just copying content is not always the best solution. What is the budget for the project, and what are your deadlines? I think it is great to talk about all the different solutions that you can use but the problem is that you have to be clearer than just terminals for a museum, and the connection to dvd player suggestion may be that some of these supposed terminals may act more just for art that is displayed at intervals, so a good quality plasma and a dvd player would be adequate maybe based on budget constraints. Maybe they may want high quality content that changes at intervals. It all depends on the budget, the interactivity that they want (meaning do they already have adobe flash app done or will you have to include this as part of the system cost?) Like I said email me it seems like a nice project but make sure the solution is adequate for the theme they are going for.
  • by Osmosis_Garett (712648) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @03:58AM (#29992030)
    As cool as this project sounds, and as much as many folks will argue with you, please please do NOT install some Linux variant and hack together a working system, as you'll only end up costing the museum more money after your contract has expired and they decide down the road to make some changes. Linux may be free, but linux administrators sure enjoy charging a premium. Go with the easiest to configure and most dummy proof model you can, and then simplify it.
  • by jjbarrows (958997) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:06AM (#29992064) Homepage
    let people use their smart phone as the terminal! then they can keep their language prefs etc. configured - it could even give a guided tour as they walk around. for a start i'd look at a Drupal site on the intranet with a local Kaltura install for the video delivery - both free and opensource so anyone can pickup the maintenance when you move on.
  • Some advice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Noctris (591045) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:24AM (#29992150) Homepage
    I work in the area of digital signage and narrowcasting (wow.. 2 buzzwords ) and we do the odd kiosk project, simply because our main knowledge center is content and how to deliver it..

    From my experience there are a couple of things you need to do:

    Go central. If it needs to be managed later on, you don't want ton run around swapping DVD's just to find out someone made a typo and do it all over again ( not talking about the enviromental choice of needing to burn disks on every content change)

    Plan for the future.. DVD is good these days but it won't be long before everyone is demanding their neanderthaler videos in Full HD 1080p thank you very much (-> 6 Mbps at least).. running some cat 5e with 1 Gb Full Duplex will NOT get the content to those 20 Clients. Streaming might be an answer but you should test this (and with a real setup, not just hooking up 1 client and opening an HD file)

    Find a good kiosk builder. As someone else said here before: these things get abused A LOT. We also do kiosks on streets which is a nightmere but even kids in a museaum with guards in it can do major damage to the machinery in the blink of an eye.

    Use the right software and protocols. Don't go opensource because it's opensource. Don't remove features from your list because only commercial products offer it. Use a protocol that is designed to handle these kind of loads of content (HTTP was never designed for serving up files of 100's of MB's.. it can do it, but there are more efficient methods. Find out which one suites your project best. (could even be streaming it with VLC)

    You could even consider building a software yourself if your needs are too specific

    And if you can, hire a professional to check the dots before implementing. I've been in IT for a long time but nothing i have ever encountered preparred me for my current situation with audio / video solutions. it's not like apt-getting MythTV and off you go..
  • by Boetsj (1247700) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:39AM (#29992220)
    Almost in my backyard, Twentse Welle [twentsewelle.nl] (site is in English) is a pretty cool interactive museum. Their site is in English as well, and you may want to get into touch with them.
  • by evolseven (941210) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:59AM (#29992322)
    While I dont work for Scala themselves, I do work for a reseller company. Check them out http://www.scala.com/ [scala.com] They are far and wide the easiest solution out there, Editing is done from an interface called the designer, where branches can be created, events can be acted upon. You upload this data to a content manager which pushes all the data out to your digital signs. You can update all of the signs remotely given that they have network access to the content manager.
  • by arielsom (1636959) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:32AM (#29992482)
    Hi, Silex is a CMS that works nicely with touchscreens. It does multilingual pretty well, which I think you're going to need. It's Flash based, so it will work with Flash Media Server smoothly. It's open source so it should go with your Linux ethos. Now you just need some hardware that can take the abuse. take a look! http://silex-ria.org/ [silex-ria.org] drop me a line if you want to talk about it (disclaimer, I'm a contributor) Ariel
  • by thoglette (74419) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:35AM (#29992498)

    "I'd love to do this in Linux"

    STOP: You're failing already.

    Don't project your wishes onto the solution space. F'er example, WTF is wrong with their DVD soln?

    You _don't_ know!

    Because you've not captured the GOALS and mapped them into REQUIREMENTS, framed by CONSTRAINTS. Then, and only then, start thinking of possible SOLUTION ARCHITECTURES.

    And first, make sure you don't have a wicked problem. (See http://www.poppendieck.com/wicked.htm [poppendieck.com])

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:11AM (#29992674)

    I'd go around about the way you planned. Flash is actually very good for this sort of thing. I'd also look into Air, maybe that's viable for this. I'd be carefull with linux clients though, Flash and the Linux rendering stack don't allways play well together.

    Use Linux for the server and look into FOSS streaming servers like Red5. osflash [osflash.org] should be your next stop.

    See if you can go with OSx on MacMinis for the kiosk systems, they'd be my safest bet and you can do neat stuff with the IR remote and some extra shareware. Remoting and control-wise.

  • by richlv (778496) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:17AM (#29992706)

    congratulations on both the chance and vision. i think this is a great opportunity to tap into opensource community as well as using this as an advertising. geek opensource museum !
    i would almost visit spain for such a thing alone ;)
    personally, i would stay away from proprietary tech like flash. you wouldn't want to get into trouble because of some choices adobe makes in the next version or simply because you stumble upon a bug in the current one.
    i actually have photos of a museum system that was based on windows... where i managed semi-accidentally to break outside of their application, wander around the hard disk and in the end i think i crashed the app as well. semi-accidentally meaning that i accidentally stumbled upon a path outside of it, and then i got curious :)
    i also have a bunch of photos with other windows popups and errors from other systems they had. at least when using linux, most visitors would not recognise error messages being the same they have at home, so it won't look as lame. hopefully.

  • by mforget (1671874) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @07:19AM (#29993032)
    this is called interactive digital signage. there are many companies out there. Cisco and Scala are the obvious large players, but quite expensive. if you want to develop a solution, i'd recommend looking at flash with a very critical eye. Air and FlashPlayer have significant memory handling issues when running running 24/7 which is not their intended context and CPU requirement when running fullscreen . (i have hundreds of stbs deployed to customer locations and flash is 90% of my problems). as a quick look, i'd recommend a combinaison of the following technologies: server: apache for content, samba of nfs for videos (streaming is over-rated when you work on a lan ) client: mplayer (vdpau (hardware accel) is very usefull for playing hd content on cheap hardware) and mplayer can be embedded and used as a mozilla plugin on linux. nvidia video cards (vdpau) xulrunner if flash is a must for user-interface animation and accessible to interface artists, use it within xulrunner and make sure you close-and-open the process when possible (killing xulrunner is a easy way to go around the memory issues)
  • by benoki (1328691) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @07:27AM (#29993084)

    Believe it or not, the function is the most interesting part of design something new.

    I've designed both AV systems and content management systems but to this point have found no pliable way to fit the "dream system" into my work.. None of the above recommendations are going to be a solution on their own, you need to design a 'system' made up of complimentary components to create something that is greater than the sum of it's parts. Be it turn-key or bespoke. the 'use flash/silverlight' question and others like it are completely irrelevant until you know how it's going to work overall in a practical sense. Form follows function.

    Some quick conceptual ideas..

    - A system that handles multiple media formats and can transcode, most likely via a seperate encoding server. Sorenson Squeeze as a concept is a good start, using preconfigured profiles and drop points etc.
    - A system that is open to input by a variety of people, both internal and external parties (e.g. staff, external academics, students, and so on). This sort of functionality would provide an open 'wiki' digital content atmosphere to building application specific knowledge resources. This also, if done successfully would provide unlimited interest from third parties.
    - A system that is available via a variety of platforms that are commonly accessible and woud act as a natural pathways form existing media reserves. E.g. public web page for uploading content to a specific museum attractions, library ISBN recommendations and so on.
    - A system that allows web based media editing, primarily for formatting 'quick-dump' content to make it either suitable for delivery or contextually palatable. See Kaltura for inspiration.
    - A system that delivers content to a physical identifiable location in the museum. It should be as simple as 'tricerotops' content arriving in a 'tricerotops' folder and being picked up from there by a mini pc or slim client.
    - A system that allows for scheduling and composing of digital presentations. NEC panel director shows a good example of practical back end functionality.
    - A system that allows dynamic touch based content call up by museum participants at the exhibit itself. A simple split screen web page with sub-topic content menus and a running presentation would work.
    - Or even better, wireless touch tablets with RF/bluetooth proximity link to each exhibit, dynamically loading content as the person moves around the museum. Choose a rugged model, make people sign for it and throw an RF tag with beepers at the exit, done.
    - Humanize the entire process.

    I can not stress enough the importance of designing the function and feature set before you choose a technology path and allow yourself to be swayed by personal or community bias (it's easy to stick with what we know and swap to function follows form). It's about the user first, the content second, everything else comes third.

    Either way, enjoy. :)

  • BitImpress Ltd is an european company which specializes the linux multimedia area including art installations for museums, animated sculptures etc.

    check out our homepage
    http://www.bitimpress.com/ [bitimpress.com]

    We can provide any kind of multimedia solution based on Linux (or alternatively OS X or Windows too, but we recommend Linux).
    The software can be open source or closed source. We can adapt existing software solutions too if it makes sense.
    The project needs to be analized on an individual basis. We provide the most competitive prices in europe due to our lean company structure.

    we collaborate with artists specialized in museum art installations
    check out this homepage
    http://www.byteo.com/ [byteo.com]

    Just write us or call us for a quote,
    we speak english,german,italian,spanish.

  • by bubulubugoth (896803) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @08:38AM (#29993454) Homepage

    Hi, I work for this guys http://www.idv.com.mx/ [idv.com.mx]www.idv.com.mx they have a streaming solutions and I know they can create the solution for you.. you migth even get the full control of the software...

    And they are no were near the price of usa or europe soluions... XD

  • by thefudgemeister (941197) <thefudgemeister@yahoo.com> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:08AM (#29994270)
    Avoid floor mounted data outlets - or face unreliable performance, high maintenance costs and likely replace/refit costs. Tombstones (high quality) are slightly better and casework mounted are still better. Wall mounted outlets are best, by far. "You can lead a person to logic - but you can't make them think"
  • by Mikew0015 (1672036) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:52AM (#29994796)
    I own a Linux system that does everything you have described and more such as lighting, relays, etc.,. It's very simple and easy to install. The video projectors are installed in NEMA4X air conditioned enclosures so they can be located outdoors. Email me at Mikew@splashencounters.com
  • by kbahey (102895) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @12:20PM (#29995856) Homepage

    I can't comment on the hardware part, but what you say is certainly doable.

    If you go the CMS route, Drupal [drupal.org] is a very powerful, flexible and extensible CMS. It also has a couple of add ons that facilitate this. For example, there is the kiosk module [drupal.org], and the kiosk theme module [drupal.org] (I am the author of the latter). These are in use at some museums already (e.g. Science Museum of Minnesota and Arts Institute of Chicago).

    Using a CMS will allow you do do many things, such as interactive quizzes, polls and surveys, display news and events, ...etc. Much more than just DVDs can do.

  • by symmatrix (902938) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @01:36PM (#29996784)
    I am working on a social kiosk project which modifies on Firefox. We have used an early version of this system in some Mozilla events in Brazil where you can check a video of the used template here - http://www.vimeo.com/tag:tagvisor [vimeo.com]. This uses the Web model ( read XML, CSS, RSS feed, SVG, HTML etc... ) all in client side for the presentation parts. The main challenges we are facing ( as now we work to put this at one of the computer science department of University of Sao Paulo in Brazil ) now are related to stability so that it works 24x7. At this point, we have modified an Ubuntu OS to boot without the graphics manager ( so now mouse etc ) and then it launches a Firefox in full screen. This Firefox has a controller extension in it. This extension puts the Kiosk Mode to function and our goal is to improve the management aspects - so that you can control this Firefox remotelly as this is intended for many terminals. We decided to go with full firefox + an extension so that we can take advantage of a full Mozilla system, with plugin and some updates, and yet we can limit Firefox user interface functions so that popups do not appear, updates are queued for later etc.
  • by ninaksimon (1672152) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @02:01PM (#29997086)
    Ideum is a fabulous company - I second Brian's recommendation of them. I also wanted to point you to ArtBabble - http://www.artbabble.org/ [artbabble.org] - managed by the Indianapolis Museum of Art with several large institutional partners like SFMOMA and the Van Gogh Museum. The IMA team has been developing open CMS systems for a variety of museum functions for years, and ArtBabble may provide you with a way both to organize and serve content (if you have good internet options in the museum) as well as to connect the Spanish museum's content to other high quality art video from institutions around the world. Regardless, you may want to speak to the folks at the IMA behind ArtBabble - they've been doing a great job distributing their own video both online and in the museum itself. Daniel Incandela is their lead person in New Media.
  • by Leroy743 (928565) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:42PM (#29999364)
    Hey there, I figured I'd chime is as I work at a media production company that does work almost exclusively for museums and visitor's centers. We typically don't use Linux because as support goes, it has less hardware support than windows does for different types of touchscreens, hardware devices, etc. Not to say that it wouldn't work with all your stuff, but a thought. Also, it's much less familiar to museum staff and other folks who might be servicing these kiosks and troubleshooting. If the staff can't figure something out, then you've got an issue and you'll the dreaded "Out of Order" sign. There are a few notes on that here. http://backroom.bostonproductions.com/?p=57 [bostonproductions.com] In terms of applications, you could of course use Flash by using FlashDevelop and the Flex compiler. I am not sure if you need a streaming server if you've got a good pipeline to feed the stuff to the kiosks. If you are going to use Flash, rather than run Firefox in kiosk mode, I'd recommend doing it in Adobe AIR. It can compile for Linux and runs as an executable. SO, when it comes to implementing some hardware acceleration and other code, it will run much better as it's own application, rather than within a web browser. Since this is what I do, I feel like I could write about it all day, but it sounds like a great challenge - I'm Jealous! If you want to check out some other info on technology that may be specific to museums, there's some good stuff on http://backroom.bostonproductions.com/ [bostonproductions.com]
  • by Zotdogg (1469295) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:33PM (#30000092)
    I realize that you said you prefer a Linux box but in the event you decide\cave and use Windows, check out the SteadyState app from MS. My favorite feature is it's ability to keep what amounts to an image of itself on a separate partition that it restores from on reboot. That is in addition to all the features to lock down the interface, of course.
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

    - Zotdogg
  • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:40PM (#30000182)

    at least not exclusively.

    Why? Because the web is a pull only method... and therefor it is up to the client when and how the data is displayed. This is great for interactive systems, but what if one exhibit requires that each of the screens in the room be synchronized to music playing on the overhead sound system. Good luck doing that with web technologies.

    I would recommend that you run HDMI and USB over Cat6 to each location. Then you have the flexibility of connecting any device you wish to the displays, and keeping it all centralized. If they want to loop a video on 4 of the displays, just hook up the four displays to a Cat 6 HDMI splitter and run your DVD or PC signal in. If you want an interactive display, connect the HDMI and USB to a PC.

    The HDMI over Cat6 stuff is not cheap, but for your needs it would be worth every penny. http://www.firefold.com/HDMI-Splitters-One-Source-Multiple-TVs-C134.aspx [firefold.com]

    Your investment in cables would still be reasonable. But the addition of HDMI over Cat6 would make your life much easier, especially for non-interactive displays and situations where hiding a computer may not be so easy.

  • by leandrod (17766) <l&dutras,org> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @07:19PM (#30001386) Homepage Journal

    Go X terminals (LTSP or omei ðe like) and SVG. Be happy! No need for clients, worryi about clients or ervers, or proprietary file formats or protocols.

  • by zacnboat (714905) on Friday November 06, 2009 @02:49AM (#30003480)
    Two people have already mentioned Scala and Brightsign on here, but the reality is that Digital Signage software is the key to mastering and easily managing a widely distributed network of touch-panels running interactive content that changes on a regular basis.

    This industry has been around for almost 20 years but people in the Museum and Entertainment industries are only recently starting to realize the potential this software represents to simplifying your everyday lives.

    Don't waste your time home-brewing some web-based directory system, or buying hardware without the software solution to drive the system. Buy a complete solution. Digital Signage solutions are characterized by the following key factors: Centrally Managed via the Network, Network Addressable Playback Devices, and Rich Media Playback in 24/7 implementations. Unless you can gaurantee that your home-brew solution can match the results of a Scala Player *OUT OF THE BOX* then you're wasting your time and money.

    Hire a consultant to help you find the right solution for your needs. DVD based playback systems are a thing of the past. Today's rich media management systems use archival servers to store motion video and static graphics in a content management system that can be interfaced from a web client that enables the content manager (YOU) to assign media to playback devices, create new messages or sets of content for playback on displays, and create interactive touch systems that are simple to setup and intuitive to use.

    In this case I would actually suggest that Scala, Omnivew (Moxie), or Coolsign would all be good candidate products to consider for this application. All three offer fully interactive touch-system setup ability out of the box, and they also integrate their solutions on almost any hardware. Scala specifically now supports everything from WiFi Picture Frames, and Appliance Based RISC Play-back devices to full-blown desktops that drive massive multi-display solutions. Omnivex is great a data integration and information polling for public terminals, and their design system is relative simple to use. Coolsign has a very nice design environment, and their play-back devices range from Displays with Built-in playback devices, to other appliances that can playback a myriad of file formats.

    ALL of these providers solution are industry certified and they represent some of the best products in the Digital Signage marketplace today. I would suggest starting with Scala, specifically I would suggest Checking Out one of Scala's biggest resellers that works with Casinos and other large venues. The company name is "Alpha Video - Digital Display Group."

    In an ideal world you would store all the content for your playback devices on a central server. That central server would host a web catalogue that you as the administrator could assign content and interactive templates to specific playback devices. The Server would distribute the media assetts to the player systems, and all content would be run locally at the player (screen) to minimize network loads and traffic between the server and players. This type of implementation is called "Push to Playback". The server pushes the content and a playback "schedule" or "script" down to the player, and the player system simply reads the script and displays assetts and touch templates based on parameters outlined by the administrator from the web interface.

    Digital signage solutions perform all these functions standard, out of the box. Go do your homework, and find a consultant that can help you make some educated decisions. I work in this industry, but you probably can't afford me.

    Good luck.

  • by tripleplay (1672606) <camorosh&gmail,com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:44AM (#30004020)
    Hi, We are Tripleplay Services a company specialized in this area, and we have a product suite that covers all the needs you mention. Our approach is to develop software based on Linux platform and HP hardware. From our view, one of the keypoints in these deployments is to guarantee an easy way to maintain the platform and make it grow easily. This is why our architecture is based in a central server that can be easily updated and that controls different clients (Touchscreen based on PC, Set Top boxes,etc..)that only need a browser to connect the server. This server can run a portal where VoD, IPTV and other information services can be accessed, and we can combine this with digital signage software on the3 same server as well, covering all the needs of the museum. This keeps complexity under control and allows to easily improve the platform. We have been working in the area for many years now, we have an office in Spain and references there. So please visit our website www.tripleplay-services.com and don't hesitate to contact us if you think we can help.
  • by mattr (78516) <mattr@noSpAM.telebody.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:15AM (#30005308) Homepage Journal

    I know one media art museum that has a video library, state of the art 10 years ago and still useful but I could make some recommendations. I am talking about the NTT ICC (Intercommunication Center) and I maybe remember it in a distorted fashion, and it was reduced in size too, but it is at the New National Opera at Opera City, Hatsudai, Tokyo. I haven't been there lately but check it out at http://www.ntticc.or.jp/index_e.html [ntticc.or.jp]

    1. The museum has a big, very expensive SGI machine (20 cpus? I forget) used for graphics intensive installations. I believe it was used on a CAVE, a gesture recognition articifical life generating installation, an interactive 3d sculpting program, etc. Nowadays I would expect you just provide a rack of machines like Mac OS X servers or the new genre of "deskside supercomputer" i.e. many graphics boards, many (up to 80) cpus, etc. If you are going to provide resources for installations. Also a studio where artists can come work to build the final stage of their installations, would be awesome (video and graphics studio would be cool).

    2. As for the video library the key is to have the content. The one I knew was a bit hard to navigate but allowed you to view IIRC interviews with artists and video works by video artists. Maybe also video documents of performance type works I forget. The headphones I think were good maybe. Screens etc. sucked. Nowadays, people have powerful laptops and they write their notes on them. Also many artworks may be created with client-side animations (like with Processing). So I would provide at least some high-end clients, and also a wireless network for people to connect their own machines. It would be nice if there were areas where one could use projection for a piece that needs to be seen big (or that requires the user to stand in front and interact) or a little room with a superior sound system, there are lots of kinds of art.
    Thin client? I read it as a piece of junk that is substandard even before you install it, only able to view old-fashioned NTSC. We're in the days of HD terrestrial broadcast, blue-ray and high def digital cinema man!! To save money make one of the seats a projection or large screen system (could be run by a Mac Pro) that can be viewed by several people at once sharing. If you must put outdated machines in there, at least make them powerful enough to be able to type notes and mail them to yourself. If you could log in and annotate or at least put bookmarks, or type a list of things to research, it would be better, but I am expecting anything you hard wire will likely be clunk and unusable quickly. Much better to make it flexible and growable.

    2.5. Growth of the archive. Another thing, the library I knew was really nice but I felt it was quite static. Not that I worked through the whole collection no way! But there were every month, sometimes every week I think seminars held by artists there. It would be natural to try and record them, or store a duplicate of something else an artist or professor might record themselves, and add them to the library. So it should and will grow. As hardware gets higher capacity and cheaper you will have an unhomogenous bunch of different systems. If you just make them all IP addressable it should be okay, maybe you want to consider ZFS. Certainly 32 bit will not be enough either. So I think you should also plan for the archive to grow, and also make it possible to record in high quality in all spaces in the museum - performance, seminar, and heck maybe it would be neat to be able to have a chat with a visiting artist in the coffee shop or lounge which could be unobtrusively captured via a mic/camera combo, enter a filename via your iphone and record something for the archive. Maybe that is even how reporters will write for newspapers in 10 years. Anyway, think about what people will need in 10 years and what will seem clunky. Some things will get cheap over time but you should have some minimal ability to do large projections, video recordi

    • by mattr (78516) <mattr@noSpAM.telebody.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:54AM (#30005632) Homepage Journal

      P.S. If you go to the ICC page you can see their Metaverse / Hive project, an open video archive. I think some links are Japanese but they have recordings of seminars too. I too dislike the disc changer idea but I don't know how much money you all have. If possible do as some other posters say, bring much high bandwidth cabling around and also put in clients with much horsepower. I was thinking of quad Mac Pro with large screen at each location. The huge fast SAN someone mentioned also sounds scrumptious. If you can't afford it all now just block out purchases in the future maybe. But don't get crappy old stuff.

      Anyway on the Hive top page [ntticc.or.jp] you see it is bilingual, and there is an announcement about licensing, and you can say click on an "ICC artist talk" like this one [ntticc.or.jp] for Knowbotic Research [krcf.org] who are very cool. There is info about the artists and their homepage, plus a link to the exhibit page from when their exhibit was in the museum (yes you have to archive all of that too, and probably hire an admin to manage updates, a student will do). There is a streaming link. And (whoa I just discovered this and will be diving into the hive from now on I assure you) a DOWNLOAD LINK! Where you can get a zip file [ntticc.or.jp] of the talk which is perfect. The library makes it CC licensed and open to the Net which is also perfect. The file is a WMA at 720x480 and 44Khz audio, perhaps lower quality than you will have in the future. Check it out, the beginning of the file is Japanese but advance a bit and it becomes English. It would be nice to have an editing studio so you can add other language tracks in the future (or just subtitles, that would be easier in a separate file). In this video file you can see how they are having a panel discussion, and the speaker plugs their laptop into the projector. Figure you will have very high-end machines on stage potentially, or connecting to/from the net. And provide a HD camera for the view of the stage. Hope this helps, the ICC really built just what you want and it looks like they have kept it updated technologically. They even have a metaverse project. You may need to host virtual worlds in the future, I guess that is pretty likely right now. Many artworks are in 3d virtual spaces or in a large web of webpages, like i love bees and david blair's wax web (which also included video and was so slow over the web of about 95 or so.). Consider Blair was IIRC the first artist to plug a VCR into the net and stream it, you are definitely going to be having a taxed infrastructure and all you can do is make it delightful to be there and work with boosting it. A big SAN is probably something you need.

      One thing I liked from something someone mentioned, the video jog dial (not really a jog, you spin it with your finger in the hole to advance or rewind video). That client looked like crap though. I'd consider how do people use the system and maybe for each station also consider (it's not that expensive) some usb add-ons like a tiny side screen for navigation (if you are full screen video), a 3D round shuttle like this [3dconnexion.com] or maybe this [altoedge.com], and a cheapo printer. I have no idea if 3d printers will get cheap one day (well yes there's a nice tabletop one I think) but just something now that people can print out a screen shot or notes. Of course best if they can just mail to themselves maybe, then no need to stock paper/ink.

      • by mattr (78516) <mattr@noSpAM.telebody.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:00AM (#30005688) Homepage Journal

        P.P.S. Also I would recommend extending the wireless network to the seminar room. It would allow a computer assisted meeting (CAM) where audience could ask questions instead of just 1 or 2 people and 1 mic then time's up, people could pose questions to that day/time's seminar blog or to a CAM system and a moderator could pick good questions, or the speakers could also type answers, or follow up later. It would be very cool. CAM used to be too expensive for large numbers of people (I once propose one for 2000 but clients are too expensive) but now everyone has a laptop or a cellphone for texting. It can be done now. It would be nice if you could provide multiple projectors too. Speakers will want to run their applications they built and maybe need higher resolution, or show a closeup of the speaker while he's talking in another projector.

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)