The Virgin Islands Children’s Museum suffered a tremendous loss when hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed both the building and 90% of its exhibits in September 2017.
While moving the museum to a temporary location, executive director Sarah Hughes also looked for something new and exciting for her visitors. She found it in software created by UWM researcher and grad student Tom Hansen.
Science Kinetics, an Ohio-based company that sells interactive displays for museums and science centers, added Hansen’s interactive fluid dynamics augmented reality wall to its catalog in 2017. Hughes was instantly drawn to it.
The technology teaches about complex fluid interactions by using computational fluid dynamics software to depict what happens in reality. Science Kinetics has licensed the software from the UWM Research Foundation, which manages the university’s intellectual property.
Hansen, an information processing consultant and doctoral candidate in UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences, wrote the code for this program to let users interact with a projection on a wall and re-create disturbances in both fluids and air in real-time using shadows and physical objects.
“It is not only scientifically correct, it’s a work of art,” said Hughes. “It is phenomenal.”
When the museum purchased the technology from Science Kinetics, it was the first time that Hansen’s technology had been sold since being licensed from the UWM Research Foundation last year.
“I’m very excited to see my work displayed,” said Hansen about a video that shows children interacting with the projection. “It’s exciting to see these kids interact with this technology.”
The museum is building a permanent location and plans to move the display there. The technology will not only be used by the average 40 daily visitors, but also by local university professors.
“It’s an incredible advancement,” said Hughes. “We are blown away by the application without having to use water when applying it to experiments.”