Building upon previous successful projects for the Maryland Transit Administration, we were asked to develop the interactivity in a railcar being converted to a children’s museum at the Old Court rail yard.
The idea was to engage children with fun games that were surreptitiously educating them about the technology and the mechanisms of rail operation, helping them appreciate the Baltimore subway system and the work required to keep it running.
There were three individual exhibits/games: Railcar Operator’s Booth Simulator, Electricity Game, and Train Game.
The Railcar Operator’s Booth Simulator was a simplified replica of the operator’s booth in the front of the railcar. It was designed with two large LCD panels trimmed in rubber weather-stripping to simulate real train windows. As the “Operator” takes the train out by operating controls on the dashboard, the views from the two “windows” would replicate passing scenery. The driver’s handle featured force-feedback and the seat was designed to incorporate a SPIA iShake (vibration) system for realism.
The Electricity Game pitted two or three kids against each other in a feverish dual to spin an arcade style track ball as fast as possible to “generate electricity” to get their train rolling to the finish line first.
The Train Game was a timed challenge where a user would have to assemble a sequence of railcars into a train as quickly as possible by moving them around the train yard, via on-screen drags and touches.
My contribution to this project was very multifaceted. From client meetings/concept requests I put together a project scope/study. After that I designed all hardware functionality and created CAD drawings of the two exhibits needing fabrication, working with an artist to get the renderings lifelike. After that, I was the lead software designer, creating the UX and functionality.