IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 26

The pen was also derived from a desire to foster social
interaction-both amongst visitors and one another, and also
between visitors and the objects on display. Cooper-Hewitt's
late director, Bill Moggridge, who died unexpectedly in 2012,
was insistent that the re-imagined museum needed to help
"set people at ease" in the sacrosanct mansion. Sebastien Chan,
the Cooper-Hewitt's Director of Digital & Emerging Media,
has said this philosophy was meant to encourage visitors to
interact with the collection.
"Technological interventions-even symbolic ones-were
expected to support this need to change every visitor's
perception of how they were 'allowed to behave' in the
mansion," Chan wrote recently in a paper he co-authored
with Aaron Cope, called "Strategies against architecture:
interactive media and transformative technology at CooperHewitt," which was presented at the annual conference
of Museums and the Web in Chicago.
Caroline Baumann says the idea of a pen is very much in line
with that ethos: "By giving someone a pen at the admissions
desk, we're saying let's go back to the very basic designer tool,
the stylus, the pen, and let people create and collect their very
own design collection."
The "Pen" itself (the Cooper-Hewitt capitalizes the word
in all of its marketing materials), is a lightweight digital
interface tool the size of a magic marker. Each visitor is given
one at admission, and as they walk through the museum's
galleries they can use it to "collect" projects that are of interest
to them. Pressing the pen against the label card next to any
object immediately stores information about that object on
a URL unique to the visitor. A godsend to anyone who has ever
tried taking pictures of item description cards, the Pen enables
visitors to view a high resolution image and description of the
item from their computer at home, or, better yet, on the touch
screen tables throughout the museum (the first of seven is
right beside the admission desk).
Like the other elements of the project, the Pen was the result
of additional collaborations and prototyping, along with
a healthy dose of research and development. The concept for
a digital interface tool was born out of discussions between
Cooper-Hewitt, DS+R and interactive design firm Local
Projects. Storyboards were produced to illustrate how such
a device would interact with the museum's collection, and it
was decided that the instrument needed to be light enough
for patrons to carry with them, but sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear from the thousands of visitors who would
come through. It also needed to be easy to maintain, clean,
and power, and the team quickly realized they didn't have the
technical capabilities to engineer the instrument themselves.

"We were a little bit up against a wall," Baumann admits.
"No museum was using anything like this, so it didn't exist."
It was one of a number of times the design team would face
such a problem-attempting to integrate a technology that
didn't yet exist into their design. The challenge was exacerbated by time, and the Cooper-Hewitt's desire to open the
rebranded museum before the end of 2014. The team ended
up finding an instrument made by a Spanish company,
Sistelnetworks, used to inventory MRI machines in Valencia.
Bauman then tapped Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE and
also president of the museum's board, for some redesign
assistance. Comstock helped get a dozen industrial engineers
on board, and with the help of organizational strategists
Undercurrent and New York-based manufacturing company
MakeSimply, the team designed several prototypes, many
of which are on display now in the museum's Great Hall.
Once the design was set, MakeSimply took it to their global
partners for manufacturing.
In parallel with the development of the Pen was the development of the label cards or "NFC" tags (a kind of radio frequency
identification technology), which needed to be integrated
with the heavy steel label rails DS+R had chosen for the
display cases. This was more than simply a case of complicated
material selection, as all radio frequencies, are sensitive to
and affected by metal. The team had to locate a vendor who
manufactured an adhesive ferrite that could be placed
between the metal and the NFC tags so that the Pen prototype
could read the tags.
While it's an excellent tool for collecting and saving data
as visitors explore the exhibits, the Pen really comes to life
in the Process Lab, the gallery space that includes a series
of billiard- sized modular display tables with digital touch
screens that function like giant tablets, as well as tables
stocked with paper, pencils and tactile items. Visitors can find
a station at one of the tables and "download" information
about all of the objects they've collected with the Pen on their
visit. They can explore and manipulate the objects in 3D, learn
more about the designers or materials, explore related objects,
and even try their hand at their own iterative design process,
adding and modifying the designs to create their own
inventions. They are also able to access designs of others,
and vote on which proposed objects they like best.

"By giving someone a pen at the admissions desk, we're saying
let's go back to the very basic designer tool, the stylus, the pen,
and let people create and collect their very own design collection."
26



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015

IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 201
Contents
From IIDA
Behind the Issue
Contributors
IIDA Roundtable
Designer Dialogue
Design Decoded
For Love of The Game
Designers Off Duty
Point / Counterpoint
Inspiration
Colophon
Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 201
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - From IIDA
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Behind the Issue
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Contributors
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 9
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - IIDA Roundtable
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 11
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 12
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Designer Dialogue
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 20
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 21
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Design Decoded
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 23
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 24
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 25
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 26
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 27
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 28
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 29
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - For Love of The Game
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 31
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 32
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 33
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 34
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 35
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 36
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 37
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 38
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 39
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Designers Off Duty
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 41
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 42
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 43
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 44
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 45
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 46
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 47
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Point / Counterpoint
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 49
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 50
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 51
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Inspiration
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 53
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 54
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Colophon
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Design Buzz
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - Cover4
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