Augmented Objects




The Bishop Museum is the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific, recognized throughout the world for its cultural collections, public educational programs and scientific research.

The museum wanted an exhibit that would help inspire the next generation of scientists, a “hands on” experience that communicated the joy and wonder of making scientific discoveries.

The challenge was to make the science accessible without over simplifying the concepts, and to create an interface that anyone, of any age, could immediately engage with.  


Our approach was to place the specimens center stage, by casting real bugs and plants from the Hawai’ian islands inside clear resin disks embedded with RFID tags. Cameras inside the tables track the location of the disks, while the screen guides visitors through a series of scientific experiments.

This all added up to a simple but powerful learning experience. Visitors are free to pick up the delicate specimens without fear of damaging them, enjoy their natural beauty up close and then use the interface to find out what is in their hands. Each specimen was both the subject and interface to its own story - exhibit and tool in a single parcel.


Placing a specimen back on the table activates a menu of science-based activities. Each experience walks guests through the identification and classification processes used to document the flora and fauna across the Hawai’ian islands.

The electron microscope activity reveals the extraordinarily detailed structures that emerge when a specimen is seen at thousands of times magnification. The interface invites guests to select part of their specimen, then use the resin disk to zoom into imagery that becomes progressively unworldly with every step.  

The taxonomy activity encourages visitors to examine their physical specimen even closer, picking it up to find a detail, then placing it back down on junctions along a taxonomic tree. Repeated observations narrow the options down to a single species, simultaneously revealing the interconnectedness of the rich Hawai’ian ecology.

Finally, specimens that cannot be identified through visual means are put through a stylized DNA analysis procedure, challenging guests to find an exact match in a genetic library.

Todd Puragson, Co-founder of JUXT Design Agency and I.D. Magazine Design competition judge.


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Interactive exhibits designed with volcanologists, entomolgists, DNA scientists and the museum’s education team. Our approach was to create moments of wonder, using technology to deliver attention grabbing moments that stimulated curiosity, provoking a deeper look at the science.

The museum features a three-storey high volcano mounted with a realistic eruption effect that can be triggered on command from an adjacent sky-walk. Guests can control the pressure and timing of the eruption while monitoring a seismograph. The exhibit shows the shock patterns before, during and after a volcanic eruption. The volcano also provides a spectacular center piece to the museum that can be seen from miles around.

The Hawai’ian island chain was formed over millions of years as the earth’s tectonic plates moved over a stationary volcanic “hot spot”.  Most maps of the islands don’t make this story clear because the evidence is mainly visible below sea-level.

This exhibit clarifies this geological phenomena by combining underwater bathymetric data with a sliding screen that displays satellite photography pulled from Google Maps. The sliding screen keeps perfect track with the model below, acting as a digital lens on the islands. The combined effect is to provide a multi-layered view of the island chain, revealing the full picture above and below the water line.

The Kilauea shield volcano on the main island is the most active of the five volcanoes in Hawai’i. This exhibit uses 1500 LED’s mounted behind a layer of crushed “rubber-glass” to demonstrate what happens underneath the ground as magma travels to the surface.  

Visitors work together to produce the volcanic eruptions that emerge from five different locations along the top of the model. Electric pumps inside the exhibit produce dramatic eruptions using red oil, as lights embedded inside the landscape illuminate the flowing liquid. An explosive sound track adds a sense of drama and scale, helping bring the model-scale geological phenomena to life.


I was responsible for the creative vision, UX and visual design of all the interactive exhibits. I also drew and wrote up detailed specification documents for the software contractors, including storyboards, wireframes, animated visuals and style guides.

I also met and interviewed scientists and science educators to deepen my understanding of their research, using these insights to develop the activities and exhibit content.

My 3D models and technical drawings explained how exhibits should be built, and throughout the process I maintained close coordination with each fabrication team to help ensure the tangible design neatly integrated with the software.


Dave Kemble, Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii.


The Bishop Museum
Gyroscope Exhibit Design
Creative Machines
The University of Hawaii
Dennis Kunkell Electronmicroscopy
Redhill Studios
Kubik Maltbie
BBi Engineering


Design Distinction. ID Magazine: 52nd Annual Design Review.
Winner in the Interactive Category. Communication Arts Magazine.