Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering

Background 

Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering is a 2,000 sq. ft. traveling exhibition created by the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in partnership with OMSI and the Quality of Life Technology Center in Pittsburgh. NYSCI was awarded funding by the National Science Foundation and contracted with OMSI to co-develop, design, build, evaluate and tour the exhibition. Human Plus tells compelling stories of engineers and users who design and use technologies to help themselves and others achieve their goals from everyday routines to lifelong practices.

Challenges 

Engage visitors in a new topic. Creatively collaborate with partners on opposite coastlines and multiple time zones. Produce a mid-sized exhibition that is easy to ship and install in a variety of venues.

Solution 
Planning

In addition to our usual research, development and design work, and the prototyping and testing necessary to produce durable traveling exhibits, the creation of this exhibition was guided by an advisory group that included engineers, people with disabilities, and museum professionals. This collaboration led to the inclusion of many voices in the exhibition—users of technologies, professional engineers and DIY inventors—engaging visitors directly in the human stories behind the technology.

Design

From customized wheelchairs for off-roading, to a vest that lets you feel music, to neuroprosthetic limbs controlled by a user’s thoughts, Human Plus showcases an innovative field of engineering. The exhibition was designed for broad appeal and accessibility. Exhibits were developed to engage many types of learners through multi-modal, multi-sensory interfaces and activities that encourage group interaction, allowing visitors to take on the role of “engineer” as they explore and create a range of low-tech and high-tech tools that restore and extend human abilities.

Traveling Exhibitions

To make the exhibition easy to ship and install, the team developed an ingenious system of carts to house the exhibits in transit. The carts are clearly labeled and easy to unload, making it simple for any size institution to host the exhibition. Instruction manuals with photo documentation and detailed instructions provide further guidance.