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Ideum, an interactive design firm known for its touch tables, has announced the release of Touchless Design SDK Version 1.0, now available on GitHub. This open-source project creates tools and techniques to aid in the creation of safe, touchless interactive exhibits. Touchless Design hosts open-source software, design approaches, and eventually will include hardware information and other resources. These resources are freely available to museums, libraries, cultural organizations, and other public institutions. Commercial entities can use them with some restrictions.
Funded by Intel as part of their Pandemic Response Technology Initiative, the Touchless Design software allows developers and museums to create touchless interactive exhibits. The software is open-source and released under the GNU LGPL version 3.0 license. The software uses a mouse-emulation layer coupled with a color-coded system of icons. The current release requires the Leap Motion Controller. Future versions of the software will support the Intel RealSense D235 Depth Camera. Using a combination of software and hardware, this system allows visitors to easily understand how to interact with touchless technology even if they are completely unfamiliar with this type of interaction.
Working with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Ideum is developing a unique touchless kiosk that will orient visitors to the "nation's collection of fine art" with a wave of the hand. This zero-touch kiosk will allow visitors to safely interact without touching the screen or any physical interface elements. This unique digital experience is proof-of-concept for Ideum's Touchless.Design open-source initiative developed to help benefit the museum field during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Providing ways to safely welcome the public back into the National Gallery of Art's galleries and spaces has been a top priority for us, as it has been for art museums across the country and world," said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. "This innovative touchless experience is one of the ways that we are re-thinking our approach to visitor engagement and learning in this moment. We are hopeful that visitors will enjoy and feel comfortable exploring our collection in this new way."
The hardware system will include a depth-sensing device, and an additional small display and LEDs will provide real-time feedback to visitors as they interact with the kiosk. In designing and developing this custom hardware and software system, Ideum is using the Intel RealSense depth camera D435 and Leap Motion controller for touchless gesture recognition. The software for the system is being developed with the Unity3D authoring platform.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with the National Gallery of Art, and to have the opportunity to work with new technology that can positively impact the museums and other public spaces that have been hit so hard by the epidemic," said Ideum Founder Jim Spadaccini. "Our deep experience with a variety of technologies over the years, including touchless technologies, makes us uniquely qualified to take on this challenge."