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Hoey Design & Solutions, Inc.
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The Weather WayBack Machine

Image of the Weather WayBack Machine

The Boston Museum of Science developed an exhibit, WeatherWise, to teach museum visitors the skills of nowcasting – predicting the local weather in the next six-hour time period. The Museum commissioned Steve Hoey and Lenni Armstrong to develop a kiosk-based interactive feature to highlight how changes in technology over time have affected our ability to predict the weather.

The Museum's exhibit developers gave us the script and storyboard for the story of the Portland Gale, a devastating winter storm that struck New England on Thanksgiving weekend of 1898. The passenger steamer Portland was lost in the storm, along with scores of other vessels, killing hundreds.

We proposed the idea of a time machine that would transport museum visitors to varying points in history, to help establish the time & place that are so essential to good storytelling. We designed the Weather WayBack machine to be expandable, so that the Museum could add two more planned stories, taking place in 1936 and 2001.

As with all our projects for Boston's Museum of Science, this feature is designed to be operated by the Museum's custom four-button interface. In thorough testing, members of the Museum staff have determined that this interface presents the fewest obstacles to usability. In conjunction with audio text that accompanies each screen of the interactive, the four-button interface allows the feature to be used by people with visual impairments, limited physical mobility, dyslexia and other reading challenges, and more.

Lenni Armstrong created all the illustrations and led the storyboard process. Steve Hoey designed the Weather WayBack machine's interface, created the sound effects, constructed the Flash file, and created all the ActionScript programming. Members of the Museum staff wrote the final script, recorded the audio narration, provided some of the images used in the program, and conducted QA testing.

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