Tilty and Spinny Tables


Onomy interactive table inventions allow walk-up visitors to interact with vast amounts of 2D information by engaging their whole bodies. Images projected onto the surface of an ordinary-looking table change as the tabletops are tilted and spun. The Tilty Table (and its variants, the Twisty and Spinny Tables) has been used to view maps and large drawings, as a game interface (most obviously, rolling ball style), and as a display for large trees of data. The user interface is extremely intuitive, and physical access to the tabletop lets people negotiate their control of the surface in ways that are not possible with other interactive table technologies (e.g., a multi-touch horizontal display). They have been installed all over the world, including at the Singapore Science Center, the Papalote Children's Museum in Mexico City, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, and in government offices in Baltimore, MD and Irving, TX.

The tables also have been used in numerous public art projects. In 2008, in a collaboration with artist JD Beltran, the City of San Francisco commissioned the project 49 STORIES on the MAGIC STORY TABLE with the 826 Valencia/826 National creative writing project – an interactive story-telling artwork using the Spinny Table that featured personal stories of San Francisco by high school students paired with imagery, film, video, and sound – the voices of the students themselves, telling their stories. That project, completed in 2009, was recognized in 2010 as one of the top interactive works (selected from an international pool of artworks) by I.D. Magazine in its 2010 Annual Design Review (Interactive Category).

The Cleveland IngenuityFest later commissioned another Magic Story Table using this technology, that comprised a portrait of the city of Cleveland, Ohio, as told through the interactive, immersive, multi-media stories of its inhabitants. In 2011, the Magic Story Table will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art in Perm, Russia, where it will be used to again create an interactive, immersive portrait of the citizens of St. Petersburg and Perm, Russia.

The basic model Tilty Table was first developed as part of the XFR traveling museum show, where it was used by thousands of enthusiastic school-age children and adults. Museum visitors quickly discovered the wonderful sensation of flying you get when you lay on the table with the image sweeping across you, so the tables were designed to take a lot of punishment and still perform.

Tilty Tables were further innovated with the "Twisty Table" which instruments torque on the table. For the TerraLink Gallery at the Maryland Science Center, Onomy Labs created the first Twisty Table to allow visitors to explore very large high resolution satellite images in detail. Like our classic Tilty Table, tilting the table top allows the visitor to scroll around an image. The addition of an instrumented twist enables the visitor to zoom in to see much more detail, or to zoom out and get a sense of the whole.

The next innovation on the Tilty Table was the Spinny Table. Like the Twisty, the spinny instruments another degree of freedom, typically used to zoom in and out of a representation. In the case of the Spinny table, the tabletop onto which the image is projected actually spins. Spinny Tables have proven to be the most intuitive mechanism for zooming, and are particularly good for unattended settings. One of the most popular applications to run on a Spinny Table is the GeoConnecTable, which is sort of like Google Maps, but with a good UI for group settings. People love poking around for their homes and for famous landmarks with this intuitive whole-body interface.