Innovations in Visualization

Exploring the Use of Digital Tables in Exhibtion Spaces

Uta Hinrichs
Sheelagh Carpendale


We conducted a study at the Vancouver Aquarium to investigate how visitors explore and experience large horizontal multi-touch tables as part of public exhibition spaces. The study investigated visitors’ use of two different tabletop applications — the Collection Viewer and the Arctic Choices table — that are part of the Canada’s Arctic exhibition at the Vancouver Aquarium. Our data analysis is still in process. Both tabletop exhibits enhance the exhibition in different ways. The Collection Viewer table evokes visitors' curiosity by presenting visually interesting information and engages by supporting lightweight, playful, and open-ended information exploration. The Arctic Choices table enables visitors to explore a variety of information about environmental and political changes within the Arctic in depth by providing detailed data visualizations. The application triggered a lot of insightful discussions among visitors.

Our findings include a discussion of the factors that attracted visitors’ attention and triggered interaction with both tabletop exhibits, the character and duration of information exploration, general exploration strategies, and factors that triggered social and collaborative information exploration. An in-depth video analysis focused on the use of multi-touch gestures on the Collection Viewer.

Project Pages



Uta Hinrichs and Sheelagh Carpendale. Gestures in the Wild: Studying Multi-Touch GestureSequences on Interactive Tabletop Exhibits. In CHI '11: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, pages 3023-3032, 2011. PDF Paper
Uta Hinrichs and Sheelagh Carpendale. Interactive Tables in the Wild - Visitor Experiences with Multi-Touch Tables in the Arctic Exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium. Technical Report 2010-973-22, University of Calgary, 2010. PDF Paper