Claus Helfenschneider

Freelance 3D Artist
Direction, Design, Animation, Programming

BASF Media Table

Date:
2013/10
Company:
Mbox Bewegtbild GmbH
Type:
Commissioned work, interactive application

BASF Interactive Media Table

Mbox Bewegtbild GmbH and Zweimaleins GmbH teamed up once again to design and build up a sophisticated interactive exhibit: the centerpiece in the recently relaunched visitor’s center in the Ludwigshafen headquarters of BASF, the world’s largest chemical company. Zweimaleins developed the concept and visual design of the application, running on an interactive media table, whereas Mbox dealt with technical aspects, as software architecture, programming of the complex multitouch application, as well as the table layout and design.

The big multitouch-surface of more than 2 x 1 meters in size allows for up to six people to simultaneously, freely and intuitively access different types and layers of information concerning the chemical company’s products, production sites, facilities, workflows, history and much more. The core of the application is formed by a 3D map of the factory premises with clickable buildings, in combination with 6 user panels where popup windows can be dragged in, so to receive more in-depth information about the respective subject. The language of menus and contents can be selected on a per user basis. Furthermore, an additional menu is to be found at the side of the table, allowing users to superimpose additional map layers—like historical views, size comparisons or flow charts—on top of the background map. The high variety of available ways to obtain data and trigger actions (e.g. browsing menus, scanning timelines, navigating image galleries, watching videos, clicking on buildings on the map) provides intuitive and transparent ways to fetch information and enable users to immerse themselves in a playful and stimulating interactive experience.

High-end technology makes it possible to acquire user positions around the table and to properly orient windows towards the particular user. Specifically created tokens with QR-code-like patterns are employed to switch the application into an alternative mode so that presenters can take full control over the table and every enclosed content. Moreover, an additional wall-mounted screen, showing a mirrored view of what presented on the table, can be linked to the system to make contents visible for larger groups of visitors.

The system also includes a tailor-made multi-language content management system, allowing editors to easily add, modify, maintain and link information in a centralized database via web browser.

The modular and easily dismountable table was also designed by Mbox and is built using resistant high-grade materials. In conclusion, this robust and responsive interactive installation guarantees reliable long-term usage in a very well frequented exhibition area.

Photos

Table construction & application testing

CMS Screenshots

Outline

Client: BASF SE, Ludwigshafen
Lead Agency: zweimaleins Werbeagentur GmbH
Location: BASF Besucherzentrum Ludwigshafen

Role of Mbox: Application development, table furniture design & layout.
Design and concept of table:
Sabine Retschitzegger
Table construction: werk5 GmbH
Technical Direction, Programming: Claus Helfenschneider
Mbox Team: Sabine Retschitzegger (Table Concept & Design), Claus Helfenschneider (Technical Direction, Lead Development), Christian Schulze (Programming), Daniel Helgenberger (System Administration), Martin Retschitzegger (Creative Direction, mbox), Michaela Göllner (Project Management, mbox)

Format: 3240 × 1920 Pixel, 3 Full-HD multitouch-screens with finger-, hand- and marker recognition

All image and video footage by courtesy of Mbox Bewegtbild GmbH and zweimaleins Werbeagentur GmbH.

MBox Project Page

My Role

As technical director and lead programmer, my tasks included research and development, as well as organization and coordination of the technical workflow.

This project combines many different technologies, like multitouch interaction, multiscreen rendering, video playback, multilingual content, complex application logic, a centralized content database, a web-based content management system and networked applications (i.e., multiple connected apps via network). Part of my job was dedicated to the implementation of a stable and efficient TUIO API, that supports finger-, hand- and marker-inputs; to the creation of a suitable high-performance database scheme, tightly interconnected with the main (front-end) application and with the CMS (back-end); as well as to the conceivement of a flexible, transparent and maintainable application architecture. Both front- and back-end applications are implemented following a solid model-view-controller architecture, neatly splitting apart content representation, application logic, and visual display. Precisely, my tasks also included the development of major parts of the front-end application, as user interface elements, logical units, the networking logic, as well as the complete multilingual content management system. Moreover, conceptual decisions, customer support, testing and bug fixing were also part of my duties.

This was a really enriching and delightful project to work on, not only thanks to the many interesting challenges related to innovative technologies and high-end hardware, but also thanks to an inspiring and harmonious team and having a wide scope of responsibilities.

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