Case Study:
Inside the Human Heart
The Franklin Institute Science Museum

by Phil Lindsey

In 1954, The Franklin Institute Science Museum built a temporary six-month exhibit, a two story tall, 35' diameter walk-through model of the human heart. Fifty years later, my team and I were asked to renovate this extremely popular exhibit, and for good measure, we had to come up with an additional 5,000 sq. ft. of cutting edge, high-tech exhibits about the human heart and heart health.

For our video-driven interactives, we chose the Alcorn-McBride slate of digital video machines, coupled with their IO64 show control units. These units were supplied and installed by Edwards Technologies, Inc. of El Segundo, CA. For show control, we used the IO64, as our exhibits were completely choice-based rather than time-based, so no show synchronization was required.

In the case of the time traveling pinball machine, the guests would first choose an ailment via a button connected to the IO64. The controller would then put a pinball in play, the guest would launch the pinball, and it would fall into one of seven slots, each assigned to a doctor from a specific historic era (from ancient Egypt to modern medicine). Once the video clip of the doctor played, the system reset to the top, waiting for the next choice by a guest.

One of our biggest challenges was the 50-year-old Giant Heart itself. It had been decades since it had been renovated, so we spent a lot of time trying to update the experience.

The final piece was a new sound and video system to provide the classic “lub-dub” sound guests expect from a giant heart. But to bring the experience into the 21st century, we added a section in the lungs where we project blood cells on the floors and walls of the pathway. As you walk along, the cells go from blue (non-oxygenated) to red (oxygenated). This effect was accomplished by three Mitsubishi DLP projectors bouncing off of front surface mirrors through the ceiling of the pathway. The projectors are playing a continuous 60-second CG animated loop off of an Alcorn McBride DVM4.

a two story tall walk-through model of the human heart
Name Franklin Institute
Installation ETI


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