Sighting: Oregon college Cascades its interactive digital signage

June 23, 2011 by Dave Haynes


I really like a combined interactive installation put together for the University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center in Eugene – as it makes a nice use of shapes and offers a simple but hard to ignore user experience.

The install, developed by the interactive design firm Second Story, involves a set of  multi-touch LCD screens running the Finnish firm MultiTouch‘s software and a series of digital columns, called Cascades.

When users touch icon prompts on the interactive table  they can search search the entire university alumni database by name, year, or special events.  The screen design includes a flow of Os (for Oregon) that are animated in the background on the table. When users interact with that background, more Os are spawned from their fingers. Messages can be sent to any of the 240,000 alumni through the alumni center’s web site, and they appear on the table.

The 2,000-square-foot atrium of the center also has six interactive media “Cascades” and three artifact-filled “Cascades” – all designed to celebrate alumni and help recruit new students.

Says the design firm:

The media Cascades are touch-sensitive floor-to-ceiling displays that present movies, images, slide shows, text, infographics and maps reflecting the university as a whole. Like the sections of a bookstore, each Cascade is devoted to a different subject matter: LEARN (Academics), COMPETE (Athletics), LIVE (Student Life), EXPLORE (Campus and Community), and HONOR (Notable Ducks). The media was designed to flow through the Cascades like a waterfall of content, introducing the diversity of opportunities—academic, athletic, social, recreational—that define the University of Oregon experience. Visitors can simply stand and watch to see all the university has to offer, while more active visitors could swipe across the Cascade to navigate through stories, touch to dig deeper into specific areas, or access menus to go directly to the information they seek.

Through a powerful, custom content management system, stakeholders across the university can log onto an intranet and modify their respective content areas. They can select between dozens of templates, upload and crop images, add videos, create slide shows, and add whole sections to their themes.

In addition to the storytelling features, media Cascades have a dynamic 3D campus mapping feature that pulls from the university’s information services database. New buildings can be added dynamically, and each story component in the program can link directly to a feature on the map. Dozens of dynamic infographics sprinkled through the content also pull on university databases to serve the most current data about the student body, alumni, or programs.

The three artifact Cascades are filled with an eclectic assortment of objects that testify to the enduring values of the University and offer a visual alternative to the surrounding media cascades. Inventions, designs, and achievements of alumni are celebrated. Defining events in the history of the university are featured. Original and facsimile documents, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera, and other objects are displayed like “wonder cabinets” juxtaposing diverse themes, values, and defining moments in UO’s history.

Evoking Eugene’s nickname “Track Town, USA,” the Cascade panels slide on a track system built into the floors and ceilings running throughout the Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center staff can slide the panels anywhere on the tracks, making the space adaptable for different events and re-configurable for learned usage patterns.

There are more of Second Story’s images on the project here …

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