Touchless.Design Initiative Will Create Touchless Kiosks for Museums

Touchless.Design Initiative Will Create Touchless Kiosks for Museums

Ideum, an interactive design firm known for its touch tables, is going touchless. Working with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Ideum will design a unique touchless kiosk that will orient visitors to the "nation's collection of fine art" with a wave of the hand. This zero-touch kiosk will allow visitors to safely interact without touching the screen or any physical interface elements. This unique digital experience will be a proof-of-concept for an open-source initiative designed to help benefit the museum field during the coronavirus pandemic.

This interactive entry experience will introduce visitors to the National Gallery of Art's diverse collection, suggest a range of ways to browse and explore, and provide a personally meaningful connection to the world of art. The kiosk will offer suggested tours of the galleries based on a variety of themes, making artwork more accessible to visitors. The touchless technology system developed by Ideum and tested by both Ideum and the National Gallery of Art will allow visitors to use simple gestures to navigate and make selections.

"Providing ways to safely welcome the public back into the National Gallery of Art's galleries and spaces has been a top priority for us, as it has been for art museums across the country and world," said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. "This innovative touchless experience is one of the ways that we are re-thinking our approach to visitor engagement and learning in this moment. We are hopeful that visitors will enjoy and feel comfortable exploring our collection in this new way."

The hardware system will include a depth-sensing device, and an additional small display and LEDs will provide real-time feedback to visitors as they interact with the kiosk. In designing and developing this custom hardware and software system, Ideum is using the Intel RealSense depth camera D435 and Leap Motion controller for touchless gesture recognition. The software for the system is being developed with the Unity3D authoring platform.

The development of the kiosk will include the creation of prototypes and continuous user testing. Both organizations will use their expertise to shape the experience and optimize the touchless technology to make the system as intuitive as possible. Along with the development of the kiosk software, the team will write a case study and share the results of the project's testing and development process as part of the Touchless.Design open-source project.

"We are thrilled to collaborate with the National Gallery of Art, and to have the opportunity to work with new technology that can positively impact the museums and other public spaces that have been hit so hard by the epidemic," said Ideum Founder Jim Spadaccini. "Our deep experience with a variety of technologies over the years, including touchless technologies, makes us uniquely qualified to take on this challenge."

The kiosk will be deployed at the National Gallery of Art in the fall of 2020, and it will be made available to other museums, design firms, and other organizations as open-source software. It was made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation. The open-source project received funding in part from Intel as part of its Pandemic Response Technology Initiative. The software, the case study, and other materials from this project will also be available on the Touchless.Design website. Ideum hopes to announce additional proof-of-concept projects for the initiative later this summer. To learn more about the initiative, please visit

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