V&A Furniture Gallery Interactive Tables

A tactile interactive experience at the V&A



Development of the central exhibit for a new permanent gallery at the V&A devoted to Furniture. AllofUs were asked to develop an interactive experience that would enable visitors to learn more about furniture materials and production techniques. We developed a haptic interface with no need for keyboards, mice or touch screens. In order to learn more about a particular material, the visitor simple holds that material. This results in a tactile experience: feeling the properties of the material whilst digital content is presenting on a large HD table display.

Content at first appears folded and crumpled in 3D space, mimicking the forms found in the physical material samples. As content opens, it unfolds to reveal itself and moves out of the darkness into the illuminated foreground. OpenGL lighting is used to give the scene depth and to enhance the three dimensional forms.

Interactivity is enabled via photoresistors embedded in each material sample. These sensors relay their readings to the primary software via custom designed and built PCBs and an Arduino micro controller.

In order to maximise clarity of the content and provide an optimum experience, we felt that full 1080 HD resolution was important. Each table display therefore consists of two 46" screens running at 1920x1080, resulting in a total full screen resolution of 3840x1080. The primary software, developed using openFrameworks, runs at this resolution at a constant 60fps thanks to the optimisations in openFrameworks’ VboMesh.

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