Cooper Hewitt Pen - User Experience Design

The Cooper Hewitt is implementing a new digital experience called the “Pen” which allows guests to collect and share exhibition information, as well as interact with the immersive museum environments. The Pen offers new opportunities for exploration
services, interactions with museum staff, and knowledge sharing across the Cooper Hewitt ecosystem as well as new management processes to ensure effective delivery of the pen. 

We created an innovative method of pen recovery at the end of a guest's visit. The pens need to be returned to the data visualization station at the exit. By retrieving each individual pen's data and placing it into the whole exhibition data, we enable the user to view a summary of their journey and compare it to other visitors. 

With special thanks to Caroline Bauman & Allan Chochinov. Worked in collaboration with Isioma Iyamah, Ziyun Qi, & Adem Onalan.


Once visitors have completed their journey through the museum, they head towards the main hall, which our team had designated as the final touch point before leaving the museum. The main hall, we suggested, might contain mounted, interactive screens, or one large ‘data wall’ that patrons would interact with. Patrons approach the screens, touch their pens to a receiver, and then watch as their path through the museum shows up on the screen. Patrons can compare their visit to others’, observing both ‘hot-spots’ (popular pieces) and other rooms or objects in the museum that they had not visited earlier. Conveniently located at the bottom of the screens are pen receptacles, into which pens are dropped.


The idea was conceived as a means to make the exercise of returning the pen ‘something to look forward to’, and in doing so, create a ritual that encapsulates both the journey and its ending. Patrons can visually trace their path through the museum using the touch-point data accumulated on their pens. 


The museum will also be able to track what rooms and exhibits garner the most traffic, and rearrange features to reflect this. This information could be used to optimize and perhaps streamline viewing experiences as well. This solution is relatively low-cost and uses technology and resources that are already present within Cooper Hewitt’s infrastructure.