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Ahead of its Time: The Tech Museum Unveils Futuristic New Gallery

Press Release Date 
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Tech Test Zone lets visitors experience emerging technologies, hands-on and participate in design
SAN JOSE, SILICON VALLEY, Calif., Wednesday November 9 - A futuristic new gallery concept, where visitors can experience emerging technologies first-hand and be inspired to imagine things to come, opens Tuesday, November 15 at The Tech Museum.

The Tech Test Zone Gallery houses a range of mind-blowing prototypes - all developed in collaboration with emerging designers, technology researchers, and innovative companies - in a 1,000-square-foot space. Visitors can catch glimpses of the future -hands-on - with innovative prototypes, some never before displayed in public. Through tablet computer feedback stations, they can become part of the design process by commenting on the models.

"The Tech Test Zone Gallery serves as a high-tech community lab, where visitors are encouraged to do more than simply gaze at the latest interactive technologies," Tim Ritchie, president of The Tech Museum, said, "They can actually pick them up, try them out and, even more exciting, critique the technology - directly influencing the design in some cases."

The Tech Test Zone is the latest gallery to open at the museum under an ambitious plan to renew or overhaul its exhibition space with mission-centered content that engages people of all ages and backgrounds in experiences that educate, inform, provoke thought, and inspire action. New additions are planned in late January 2012 for The Tech Silicon Valley Innovation Gallery.

Among the new exhibits in The Tech Test Zone:

Pixel: Eye Tracking Technology
Developed by graduate students Pixel lets other people see the world through your eyes. Eye-tracking cameras inside the viewers broadcast what you are watching to monitors that everyone else can see

Digital Foam: A Pressure Sensitive Surface
Like clay, Digital Foam lets you sculpt 3D models with your hands. Its sensors detect pressure, which a computer program translates into a digital drawing

Sketch-A-Race: A User-Generated Augmented Reality Game
Draw and then drive on your own racetrack in this augmented reality game

Thermal Camera: An Extreme High-Resolution
Normal cameras take pictures of visible light, which people see as color. But thermal cameras capture the long wavelengths of infrared light, which people feel as heat. In pictures of infrared light, warm areas appear white, yellow, orange or red, while cool areas appear blue, purple, or black.

Body Zoom Technology: Gestural Interface
Use your whole body to move and zoom into a richly detailed photograph. Open Exhibits' free open-source software and a Microsoft Kinect help you explore this gigapixel (1 billion pixel) image

An interactive conference, "Interfaces for the New Decade," is scheduled in conjunction with the gallery opening. During this one-day gathering, a host of renowned international scientists, developers, researchers, and designers from around the world will explore how museums and other public-space designers can use technology to enhance visitor learning and experience. The conference will also feature the U.S. debut of "Heist" an experimental Open Exhibits project that enables digital museum objects to be easily shared with a visitor's smart phones or tablet without requiring an app download.

Speakers include: Dr. Ross Smith, Deputy Director, Wearable Computer Laboratory, University of South Australia; Jim Spadaccini, Director, Ideum, and Principal Investigator, Open Exhibits, Rick Ernst, Lead Designer, Ogmento, Tamara Schwarz, senior manager of experience design, Chabot Space & Science Center, and Sasha Harris-Cronin, Lead Creative Programmer, BBI Engineering.

The full agenda and registration are available here.

WHAT: Opening of the Bay Area's first-ever gallery, where futuristic emerging technologies are available to the public to test, critique

WHO: Host of international scientists, developers, designers including Ross Smith of Wearable Computer Laboratory in South Australia; Rick Ernst, lead designer of Ogmento, and Tamara Schwarz of Chabot Space & Science Center

WHEN: 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011

WHERE: The Tech Museum, 201 S. Market St., San Jose, CA

For more information on the exhibition, click here.

Roqua Montez
Director of Public Relations

+1 (408) 795-6225