With the task being to design an interactive exhibit around the topic IoT, we decided to go with the digital twin as it is an emerging and trending topic in the industry right now and in the near future. Criteria for the exhibit is that our prototype should work without supervision and it should be appealing, but also convey useful information in a short time.
To fully understand the topic we did our own research and looked in all directions on how to convey information descriptively, contextually and szenographically. One useful way to start of is creating a poster, that way you have to think about breaking all the information down to just 2-3 minutes reading time. This helped us a lot later on with defining the information and the way we tell it for our final exhibit.
For an exhibit to work properly in any situation, you have to take multiple user groups into account. To experience those and the way interactive exhibits are designed in museums we went to two local museums. While being there we did a shadowing of various users and user groups to learn about their behaviour and about which exhibits work best and what the aspects about them are.
The exhibit lets the user take place in the creation of a digital twin of a wind turbine. We chose the wind turbine because it is familiar to nearly every age group and also has a fairly comprehensible function.
For the physical part the basic structure of the exhibit had to be built: Table, top, and a windmill model. The table construction was planned so that the touch screen is at a comfortable height for an average body. We were looking for a material for the table that would be stable, easy to work with and available in black and finally chose MDF. From five boards we screwed a cube-shaped table with the dimensions 100cm x 90 cm. We decided to build the model of the windmill ourselves in SolidWorks. This enabled us to display the physical and virtual parts identically. We printed the model in 3D several times until we found the right dimensions by making small adjustments. The biggest problem in the construction of the model was the proportionality: Since the motors have to withstand a lot, they are relatively large. We had to find a balance in the proportions of the model.
In our concept the visitor can interact with the digital twin via a touch screen. However, the digital representation of an object is manifold. During the process we tried out different ideas and visualizations of a wind turbine: 2D graphics, drawing, 3D model, etc. In the end we decided to use a CAD model, as it is already used and needed in the industry in connection with the Digital Twin. Since we wanted to rotate and animate the model of the wind turbine in the application, we decided to implement it as a React App with the library Three.js. This library is used for animations of three-dimensional models in a web browser. Another advantage of the React App is that the model is rendered live and the data is updated in real time. The communication of the Arduino, which controls the motors, runs with websocket. Data is forwarded via a serial interface. All in all, this implementation allows the content to be dynamically adapted due to the easy translatability.
Because of the good cooperation possibilities and version control, we managed the technical implementation (prototype code with app, screens and arduino control) via GitHub, where the documentation is also available: GitHub