Tile Zone mixes touchscreen innovation with enjoyment

Multi-touchscreen exhibits bring elements of science and entertainment together to attract the public’s interest

Next month the sixth Tile Zone London conference will take place at the London Transport Museum, looking at new technologies informing exhibition design.

Richard Curtis, managing director of Andrich International, which organises Tile Zone, says, ’I’ve noticed over the years that, while there are two different markets – entertainment, and museums and science centres, there is a huge crossover. Both are trying to attract the public in – even if the museums aren’t charging, they’re vying for people’s time.’

The conference will also highlight project opportunities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Poland, Russia and Turkey.

Curtis says, ’One of the reasons UK Trade and Investment supports Tile Zone is because we highlight opportunities overseas. People are constantly swapping ideas and contacts.’

He adds, ’Lottery-funded projects spawned new designers and suppliers but a lot of that’s dried up, so they tend to be hunting for work overseas.’

There will be a talk about the West Kowloon Cultural District project in Hong Kong, and a discussion of opportunities in the experience economy sector in Brazil focusing on the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

The conference’s Technology for Operators presentation will see Alan Wilkinson, technology consultant for Electrosonic audio-visual suppliers, chairing a session addressing emerging technologies such as flexible screens RFID (radio-frequency identification), image recognition and gesture technology.

Wilkinson feels developments such as gesture technology and multi-touch are forcing exhibition designers to be ’more innovative’.

’It’s all about buzzwords – everybody wants the latest thing,’ he says. ’Some of my job is about convincing people to take things out of the design.

’A standard touchscreen is a one-to-one experience – now, with multi-touch tables, a whole group of people can use the interactive.’

Kevin Murphy, development director of Event Communications, and Loic Tallon, director of design consultancy Pocket-Proof, will co-present a discussion on mobile technology.

Murphy says, ’In the old days it was about audio guides, but now we’ve got smartphones, tablets and specific design devices. It’s about what you can do beforehand, like downloading guides and apps.’

Tallon adds, ’The main thing is project management – in an environment where you can do whatever you want, it’s about choosing what’s worth doing.
’There’s no formula where you can say “this technology works everywhere” – the technology is part of a larger project.’

Darka Juras, managing director of Idea Studio, and Greg Jeffreys of Paradigm AV, will explore the use of multi-touch exhibits and environments.

Juras says, ’Interactive experience delivers motion and a new dimension to any display technology or subject – if we’re able to interact to explore [the exhibition] our impressions will be more memorable.’

Curtis adds, ’When Tile started there was a lot of buzz about virtual reality, but it became apparent that the technology is primarily a facilitator to tell a story, convey an emotion or create a good experience.

’If you sell an experience based on a particular technology it’ll very quickly run out of steam. People keep coming back because it’s fun, exciting, or even emotional – not because it’s got a 32-bit computer driving it.’

Tile Zone London

  • Tile stands for trends, technology and design in leisure and entertainment
  • Tile Zone will be held at the London Transport Museum on Wednesday 16 March
  • There will be a networking reception party at the Museum of London on the evening of 15 March
  • The conference will feature a presentation about Cornwall’s Eden Project, which will elaborate on Eden co-founder Tim Smit’s dream to create five more Eden Projects across the world.
  • Tile Zone was first held in Maastricht in 1991. There have since been Tiles in Strasbourg, London, Berlin and Lake Como; the Tile-Asia conference in Singapore; and Tile Zone seminars in London, Hannover, Warsaw and Lodz

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