The ColliderCase makes exhibitions smarter and more eye-popping

17 May, 2016

Museums will soon be able to bring historical artefacts ‘to life’ in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

A York-based company has developed the ColliderCase, a new way of displaying objects that allows animations, ‘x-ray’ style viewpoints and other enhancements to be superimposed onto them.

Chris Walker, Managing Director of Virtual Case Systems which has developed the case, likens the technology to head-up displays in a plane, which project flight information into a pilot’s field of vision. The result is a hologram-like optical illusion that enhances static objects without damaging them in the way that, say, the heat from a video monitor might.

Words can’t really do the technology justice, so here’s a video demo. It shows how a museum could turn a Soviet-era sextant from a lump of metal into something visitors can really understand.

Data-powered exhibitions

The ColliderCase is more than just a fancy case to make exhibitions more engaging. It can also collect data about visitors, helping curators understand what exhibits most interest them.

Similar to a Web analytics platform, data like visits; number of unique visits; the amount of time visitors look at the case, and the age and gender of visitors, can be collected. Age and gender is approximate, relying on a face-recognition camera that makes a guess about each visitor.

Walker believes that this can help challenge some of the received wisdom of museum exhibition design. He says that rules of thumb like ‘never make a video longer than seven minutes because people won’t watch it all’ are passed around the curator community. Hard data could figure out if these ‘rules’ are actually true, and help museums tweak individual displays to receive maximum engagement.

The audience analytics technology will be made available on its own without the ColliderCase, as a product called IotaCase. Beyond data, the company is also working on a content collaboration platform that will allow users around the world to work together on material for the cases to display.

Virtual Case Systems was spun out of Bright White, a company that has been designing installations for museums since 2004. The ColliderCase has been around a year in the making and is a collaboration with Runcorn-based d3t, which developed content management software for the project.

Discussions are being held with museums in the UK, US, Australia and Japan, and Walker says the first exhibitions to feature the ColliderCase will take place later this year.

You can see the ColliderCase for yourself this week. It will be on display at the Museums and Heritage Show at Olympia, London, on the 18th and 19th May. Entrance is free.

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