Rights of Passage

Rights of Passage

It may not seem like it when you’re desperately awaiting the arrival of a beverage cart on a long flight, but air travel is still fairly miraculous in its brevity. Compare the experience of flying with maritime travel and you should feel a similar sense of appreciation for how far we’ve come since the earliest days of global exploration and commerce. While today all you need is a boarding pass and a pair of sweatpants to cross the Atlantic, it once took brave men and women months to navigate this same passage.

The modern compulsion for faster speeds in all aspects of life has been fostered and enabled by technology, and at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the slow progression of how humanity learned to traverse the earth efficiently is sped up via incredibly high-tech audiovisual exhibits. A 20-minute stroll through a series of rooms in the “Voyage at Sea” experience fully immerses museum visitors in 500 years of maritime history, leaving you reeling not just with seasickness but also the realization of how far we’ve come as a civilization.

In Amsterdam last month for the IS E show, a tour of the newly renovated museum’s advanced AV integration was provided by Dataton and Dutch systems integrator Rapenburg Plaza in the trade show’s first ever tech tour, and the amazing effects of technology were evident in every exhibit. Beginning with the “Voyage at Sea”, which rocks visitors in a 360-degree, ovalshaped projection room, everywhere the creative application of video and lighting technology was inspiring.

The museum was like an exercise in what can be done with curved video projection screens, touch tables, holographic projection, and gesturecontrolled interactivity. Evidently the public likes the new exhibits. In the first four months after its reopening in October, the National Maritime Museum received 200,000 visitors, a number which used to be the annual average attendance for the venue.

Watching the kids screaming through the atrium and adults of all ages and demographics wandering, captivated, through the exhibits, I have to confess I had an AV geek moment. The work done in this industry is truly wondrous and engaging for audiences of any kind. Whether it’s your CEO client tapping an iPad and lowering a projection screen or members of a congregation finally hearing the words of their worship leader, it’s on par with the kind of technical prowess required to cross the ocean centuries ago. Maybe that fact will make your next installation seem more adventurous. Remember, all that wire-pulling through cramped ducts is still better than living under ship decks for months at a time.

Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.