An Interactive MultiTouch of History

How do you pack a ton of visitor information into a small historic Quaker Meetinghouse space? By building in an interactive multitouch covered bridge, of course! Miller Designworks was contacted by the Chester County Convention and Visitor Bureau to help them turn a part of their space in the historic Longwood Friends Meetinghouse, a prominent abolitionist gathering place, into a must-see stop for visitors coming to the Brandywine Valley.

First, MDW helped them reconfigure the arrangement of the front rooms in the Center to help the flow for visitors, making it more user friendly to browse the racks of brochures. Then we created new built-in cabinets with LED lighting to match the existing Shaker style and increase storage.

An Uncovered Bridge

Then the real work began. MDW had built a 10′ x 6′ covered bridge support to hold two tilt-able frames. The two frames visually act as the sides of the roof on the “bridge”. The support is a scaled replica of a Burr-Arch truss covered bridge design. The bridge was constructed of reclaimed PA barn lumber. The motorized table can be lowered flat and converted into a conference table. The normal ADA-accessible position is tilted up at a 45 degree angle for the display.

The top frames were fabricated the same but have different content. One side has switchable LED-backlit graphic panels for seasonal display information, while the other side is a state-of-the-art 110″  interactive multitouch table. A video attraction loop shows scenes of the Brandywine Valley until touched. Then it transitions to two “stations” where multiple visitors can simultaneously explore the sights and sounds and attractions of Chester County.

Big Impact in a Small Environment

MDW created interactive stories that help enrich the guest’s experiences in the area, and give them a taste for the attractions they might go to. The interactive multitouch table displays use HTML 5 multimedia, video, audio, graphic panels and 3D models. Highlights include the history section, with original narratives about the role of the Brandywine Valley in the American Revolution, the Underground Railroad, and Covered Bridges. Additional sections showcase the Gardens, the many recreational and arts opportunities, and the unique downtown Mainstreets in the area.

Beyond the table, MDW also developed a digital signage display for the end wall, showing a looping video of the area attractions, upcoming events and user-generated content from their instagram feed.

Welcome and Sign-in Please

Finally, while there are visitor center personnel to help direct and answer questions, MDW also developed a digital kiosk and “sign in ” book that adds all the new visitors to a global “where they are from” map and also gives guests access to the Brandywine Valley web site for additional info.

The goal of the redo for the Center was to draw visitors in and give them an enhanced experience– one not available on the website– that would make them want to spend more time at the center and also engage more with the staff, asking for additional info about sites they had seen on the table. These goals have been met and surpassed, and now they are looking for MDW to extend the concept to other digital gateway visitor information centers around the county.