Many of us are familiar with those interactive displays at museums where you press a button and different bulbs light up to show you something like the path an explorer took to discover a new country or an arboreal animal's habitat in the forest canopy. Frankly, I'm never that impressed with those exhibits. I need a lot more "wow" to get me interacting with a display. Which is precisely why I got excited the other day while talking to the folks over at Micro Industries, an Affiliate Member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance. CEO Michael Curran was telling me about the interactive experience at the DuPont Environment Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Interpret Green, an interactive exhibition firm, chose one of Micro Industries' Touch&Go messenger* 65L dynamic media displays positioned flat like a table to give visitors an interactive aerial view of their grounds. Touch an active spots on the display and information would appear.


It was one of those "aha" moments. My mind started cranking on how something like that could be used, and in most cases, Interpret Green had already thought about it. It's really a simple concept. You take a large touchscreen digital sign/computer and lay it flat on a stand. Suddenly, the world changes. People can gather around it and start touching places in the screen to make things happen. In a natural history museum, you might touch a pyramid and get a video tour just in that area of the screen of the pyramid's interior. Someone else on another end of the "table" could simultaneously touch an image of a mummy and see a video of the mummification process.


In a mall or airport, an interactive map could do much more than the standard "you are here" static map. In addition to showing where stores are in the mall or various gates in an airport, it could pop up information on specials or videos of the interior of the store that give you an idea of its merchandise. For mall or airport restaurants, photos of sample dishes or PDFs of menus could be displayed.


Other uses quickly come to mind as well. For a theme park, pictures or videos of the each ride could pop up when you touched their location on a map. In an arcade, a horizontal touchscreen could be programmed as a game board for multi-player games.


This is big thinking and it gets bigger. Michael told me Micro Industries has introduced an even larger Touch&Go messenger*, the 82L and 82P (the "L" stands for "landscape" and the "P" for "portrait."). What's more, these new units come with plenty of processing and graphics performance. They feature the new embedded version of the Intel® Core™ i7 processor with its integrated next generation graphics engine. Bottom line, the Touch&Go doesn't need a third-party graphics card for dazzling, eye-catching high definition (HD) graphics, video and 3D. It's built-in.


The integrated graphics can be a big point when it comes to power. A graphics card can easily consume 150 watts. If you're looking to run a computerized display day in and day out, being able to skip the card significantly reduces power consumption. If you're running a number of these interactive tables spread out over a facility or many locations, the savings really add up.


Micro Industries also has another way for you to minimize ownership costs—remote management. By utilizing Intel® vPro technology (specifically its Intel® Advanced Management Technology, or Intel® AMT, component),[1] these systems can be maintained and managed remotely for reduced total cost of ownership (TOC). They can even be shut down and turned off remotely to increase energy savings.


Interestingly enough, Intel is impressed enough with the Touch&Go messenger series that Intel EVP Sean Mahoney used one in a demonstration at the Fall 2009 Intel® Developer Forum in San Francisco (see video). One of the features he demonstrated was its ability to incorporate a camera and video analytics to determine a viewers demographic (age, sex) and bring up messages or other information likely to be pertinent to you.


What's your opinion on large table-format touchscreen interactive maps? Are they coming to a museum or mall near you?


[1] Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) requires the computer system to have an Intel® AMT-enabled chipset, network hardware and software, as well as connection with a power source and a corporate network connection. Setup requires configuration by the purchaser and may require scripting with the management console or further integration into existing security frameworks to enable certain functionality. It may also require modifications of implementation of new business processes. With regard to notebooks, Intel AMT may not be available or certain capabilities may be limited over a host OS-based VPN or when connecting wirelessly, on battery power, sleeping, hibernating or powered off. For more information, see