After years of local fundraising, the group SALUTE Warioa presented a 65” Ideum Touch Table to the staff of the Wairoa Centennial Library. In return, SALUTE Warioa asked the library team to develop a Touch Table Memorial which would, in part, honor WWI servicemen and women who had connections to the Wairoa community. The group planned to encourage families of WWI veterans to share personal memorabilia, films and stories which would be complemented by thousands of photos. Additional uses of the table as a means to engage and educate were also encouraged.
The library staff’s mission was to investigate approaches for maximizing the amazing capabilities of the touch table itself. Library Manager Sandra Hughes, said “We wanted to use the touch table in its widest capacity but in a way that was as unique as possible. If the interactive app would look as good on 8 tablets in a group setting, then we wouldn’t bother to put it on the touch table.”
The library staff began by exploring and testing different interactive applications with the ultimate goal of bringing local information to life for visitors of all ages. Managers at the library wanted to foster community engagement, showcase local content, and add excitement to education.
It was clear that the initial adoption of third party technology would require additional staff hours to bring the interactive touch table plans to fruition. As the manager of the library facility, Hughes was already facing a staffing crisis. The team was without a budget to accommodate another employee, let alone one with coding experience. The touch table that had been gifted was originally equipped with OpenExhibits, a software development framework for creating multi-touch applications. Use of OpenExhibits was a non-starter as the library staff had no coding expertise. This threatened the team’s ability to create the type of interactivity they had set out to offer. Hughes said, “I realized it was unlikely we would have the staff to enable us to utilize OpenExhibits”.
The majority of the research conducted by the library staff concerned third party experience creation software and their capabilities. With the original goal of building unique interactions, the team ran into difficulty finding interesting interactivity presets that they could modify. The majority of interactive experience creation tools relied on prebuilt templates that enabled only limited customization.
The WWI Memorial experience needed to be data-driven, meaning it had to be easy to update content using an external resource rather than by modifying the experience directly. Since the library staff would be collecting maps and historical assets over time, they needed the ability to launch the experience with initial collected materials but to retain the option of adding to those experiences in the future. Further, as the families of veterans shared new memorabilia, these additions would need to be added on a regular basis as well.
The library staff knew that even a well qualified candidate for creating the interactive content would still need training resources and ongoing support. Ideally, there would be no coding of any kind combined with a high level of design flexibility. The solution would also need to enable a simple content update process. All of this appeared to be a lot to ask of a software solution.
After advertising for an intern position, the team was able to recruit a 3-year Marketing student in an industry-based learning position. Although the intern did not have coding experience, she was able to research user-friendly design platforms that did not require technical coding knowledge. After researching several creative suites, the team decided to evaluate Intuiface using its Free Edition. Many training demos were available in video and webinar form, giving the intern confidence to launch the creative and testing process. Even with the free version of Intuiface, the intern and the broader library staff were able to fully build and test interactive programs.
Hughes said, “We chose to create a local shipwreck application as our first project. The intent was to use this project as a means of exploring what other projects may be feasible. This would also equip us with the knowledge of Intuiface’s asset management system so we could easily manage and update the memorabilia for the more than 100 servicemen and women who would be featured in the WWI Veterans Memorial experience ”.
To accommodate the data-driven objectives of the team, the shipwreck application was linked to a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing shipwreck names and locations.
Ultimately, a complete interactive application, with a bespoke design and simplified update capabilities, was created without any coding. (See above images.)
Among Intuiface’s many advantages, Hughes appreciated the usefulness of Intuiface’s experiences library. “There are many interesting experiences in the Intuiface Marketplace that served as both inspiration and as a starting point for our exploration of what was possible.”
Hughes continued, “We decided to purchase an annual Intuiface Composer licence and began modifying some of the experiences we’d built during the evaluation phase, refining them to better fit our immediate objectives.” With the freedom to create their own application concepts in a very short time, the workflow shifted from an application-research-centric process to an ideation-first approach which was necessary for the unique experiences that the team had intended to develop.
Hughes said “We discussed creating our own paint/colour app using multi-touch. We also wanted to offer a different palate for each user. Within 20 minutes, our intern had a draft concept showing that it was easily achievable with Intuiface. With such easy success, we have her the green light. By the end of one day we had completed the ‘Multi-Brush’ concept.”
From the success of the ‘Multi-Brush’ experience, the library staff moved on to other projects, like the “Historical Maps of Wairoa’ and the initially planned WWI Veterans Memorial application. This included the use of digital maps, natively supported by Intuiface. The team was not only able to deploy new experiences efficiently, but were realizing their goal of easily updating content as new media became available.
The original objective of honoring Wairoa’s own WWI servicemen & women was achieved. According to the SALUTE Wairoa Group, over 60 community families have come together to share momentos and photos. Other community members have also come out to the library to show their respects and learn more about the lives of these veterans through the interactive experience. In addition, the library now has a resource for attracting and engaging community members of all ages. Special community events have been made possible by the touch table. As an example, the library hosts two classes during which children were able to design and color their own art projects using the Multi Brush application. Sandra Hughes, the Library Manager, described the event as a “huge success”.
The design experience has led Sandra Hughes to advocate the use of Intuiface by other library professionals. “I personally wouldn’t want a touch table in a public library without Intuiface. It opens up endless possibilities and the ability to create really stunning multi-touch visual experiences. Intuiface is the secret to bringing technology to life on a limited public library budget."
SALUTE Wairoa has been as equality pleased with the community’s response to the WWI Memorial. So much so that they plan to deploy the touch table and experience at local schools in the area as well as at the local Wairoa Museum.