Papers

bonita Re-Imagines Showrooms

Abstract

Faced with the current limitations of showrooms, bonita develops the Interseum- a network of interconnected showrooms across the Baltic Sea region combining both physical and virtual exhibits.

In a technology park in the Netherlands, an 8th grade student tries to move solar cells around a table to try to capture enough light energy in a learning simulation game.

In an exhibition room in Germany, a visiting representative of the Latvian Economic Ministry tries on an head mounted display and starts imagining the possibilities of such a piece of technology for the Latvian electronics industry.

Small and specialized exhibitions, so called showrooms have proven time and again to be very effective in sharing technology and ideas to the public: Scientific institutions often use them to demonstrate research results, while learning institutions use them to show complex scientific concepts to a wide range of people.

The reason for this is quite clear: technology showrooms have a mass appeal, even to the non-scientific public. While the general public has trouble appreciating highly technical research, the increasing popularity of technological exhibitions such as CeBIT seem to suggest quite the opposite.

The hands-on, demonstrative quality present at technology showrooms gives the visitor a tangible experience of the technologies' possibilities. Beyond computer code or mathematical formula, the visitors are given a vision of what role such technology can play in their lives, whether personal or professional.

Also, when a non-scientist personally interacts with a working demonstration, he gains an a personal connection to the technology. Because of this, complex scientific ideas are often best explained through hands-on experience.

Showrooms also serve as valuable contact points between research institutions and their audiences: the public, sponsors, industry partners, etc. Research organizations can present technologies and their potential applications in an attractive and memorable manner.

Limitations of current showrooms

The contemporary person, due to web 2.0 and social media, is accustomed to a certain level of interactivity and personalized content. Online, he or she can share his thoughts on an artifact, read other people's discourses on it, and then immediately look up related information if so desired.

With showroom exhibits, such interaction can only be achieved when the visitor returns home (or accesses his internet enabled mobile device) to visit expert forums on the internet. At any rate, such an action is neither connected to the showroom objects, nor the exhibiting institutions, nor the researchers and experts working on those exhibits.

Another thing the contemporary person is accustomed to is personalized content. Showroom displays on the other hand are often designed to accommodate a broad audience spectrum. Exhibition constraints require that the same general-purpose presentation is offered to all visitors, whether they are professionals, visiting students, other researchers, or venture capitalists.

While the presence of a skilled and knowledgeable guide can assist in such matters, the availability of such guides is often in question.

And finally, showrooms are often limited to a single geographic location. As effective as showrooms are in demonstrating significant scientific work, they only readily accommodate the local visitors.

bonita introduces the Interseum

To this end, bonita has been building on their concept for a physical and virtual showroom: The Interseum.

The goal of the physical-virtual showrooms is similar to that of regular showrooms which is to give visitors first-hand experience on the possibilities of ICT and how these apply in real world applications.

Many of the individual bonita partners already have experience with running showrooms. For years they have successfully held an open window to the potential of ICT research to the public.

However, with the cooperative drive of the bonita partners, they are bringing the traditional showrooms to a whole new level.

To begin with, existing bonita showrooms are receiving a much welcomed upgrade. New multitouch display technologies and high end video conferencing and digital communication equipment are being integrated into the current showrooms.

bonita is expanding the showrooms further by extending the physical showrooms to the virtual domain. Virtual recreations of the artifacts are being made accessible on the internet. This would allow remote visitors to interact with the exhibits almost as if they were in the physical showrooms themselves.

This expands the availability of the showrooms beyond geographic locations, opening or closing times, or limited availability of knowledgeable guides. Furthermore, it connects the various showrooms in different countries with a link that allows expanded degrees of collaboration in ways previously unrealisable.

The Interseum is more than just a virtual translation of the exhibitions in the showrooms. The interseum adds value to the exhibitions by offering new possibilities of interaction, communication and learning.

The showrooms play a major role in realizing bonita's goals of fostering greater transnational cooperation between Baltic Sea countries. The completed Interseum can and will be one of bonita's lasting contributions to the furthering of scientific innovations in the BSR.

Credits:
eventV