Kids burning off energy: Where to play in aquariums (Part 2) / by Martin

In my last post I wrote about the necessity for aquariums to provide play areas with every exhibit, or at least within every exhibit gallery, so that kids can let out their extra energy.
I only showed what was simple, low tech and of moderate size.

In this entry I want to present an item that is great for play and being active, but is high tech: interactive wall (or floor) projection technology.
The example I chose is from the Aquamarine Fukushima Aquarium in Japan. The aquarium opened in 2000 and ten years later it added a new exhibition area. This addition is geared towards kids. (I already wrote about its spiny lobster exhibit and cushioned play area in previous entries.)

Next to the cushioned play area are interactive projection walls that allow children (ages 3 to 99) to manipulate a projected image on the wall through their own movement.
Below two girls are jumping in front of the wall to manipulate the projected images.

This is better explained by the video clip below. 13seconds

Or, here is an example from the Orlando Airport in Florida, that shows this technology in action with an aquatic touch 14-second clip

Back to the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium:

I liked how active the kids were in front of the screens. 

I liked the set up that children can manipulate the projection of a jelly fish and then observe the real thing in the tank adjacent to the screen. You can see their dad, who seconds ago was waving his arms in front of the screen, now taking a closer look at the jelly tank in the background

I also like that these screens are easy to dismantle to make room for a fish tank. Which could happen in the near future, because...
Technology in zoos and aquariums is often faster outdated than one can install it. These interactive walls (also available as floor projections) are becoming increasingly common at airports and malls, and are often used in connection with advertisement.Nintendo's Wii, with its handheld pointing device that detects movement, is not far off from the motion screen technology and has already made it into kids' homes.
So how do you top that or make it more novel? Do you want to or need to? Wouldn't it be better - in the long run - to stick to your core business?

However skeptical I am about putting resources towards technology, I was impressed when I saw the children dancing in front of the two projections, burning off energy, and having fun! - It worked great.

On the video clip above the screen is round, in the foreground and part of the yellow wall.
There is a fish tank directly underneath it - bringing the fish back into the picture. (I was wondering, does this hand-waving and jumping up and down of the visitors provide any enrichment/entertainment for the fish?).

The photo below is giving you an overview of the layout of the space: the round screen on the right with the discus tank underneath, and a jelly tank on the left with two projection screens beyond.

Interactive motion screens at the Aquamarine Fukushima (click on photo to enlarge)
Next to these motion projection screens is a cushioned play area with several fish exhibits, which I presented in the previous entry. I venture to predict that the play area will still be fun five years from now, but the motion screens won't; they will have been replaced with the next cool thing.
But again, for now they are fun and good examples for letting out some energy indoors with the entire family.

In case you want to find out more about these interactive devices I've included a few links below.
1. A company that manufactures interactive motion screens

 2. A blog that discusses this - and similar - technology: "Interactive Multimedia Technology"