Champlain College and Burlington International Airport Unveil Interactive Media Displays At Airport

Nov 4, 2016

There are two new interactive displays at the Burlington International Airport.  Designed and installed by students at Champlain College the intent is to showcase the city’s growing tech sector.

     
“Flight” allows passengers in the North Terminal to experience flying without leaving the airport while “Graffiniti” allows the inner artist to emerge.

There’s no special equipment – skeletal tracking technology allows people to use their body to control the planes or paintbrushes on the 70-inch interactive displays in Burlington International Airport.  Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger stepped in front of “Flight” to try it out.  “Let’s do it. I’m going to crash.”
Airport Manager Gene Richards: “No not all, you never crash at Burlington!”
Weinberger: “Switch planes. Oh my.”
Richards:  “Get rid of the fighter.”
Weinberger: “All right what have we got here?”
Crowd: “Careful! Watch out for the birds!”

Champlain College President Don Laackman says the installations represent a growing partnership between the college and the city.   “This insulation came out of our Emergent Media Center led by Ann DeMarle and was created by students and faculty to showcase the intersection of technology, innovation and creativity. It's designed to be interactive to engage people in a very natural way.”

Champlain College Vice President for Institutional Advancement David Provost explains that the project came about after the airport manager visited the college’s Emergent Media Center.   “People drive by Champlain College say it's a beautiful campus but no one’s really sure what's going on behind those walls. And Gene walked through and said we need to replicate what's going on behind these walls at the airport. As visitors come to Vermont they need to immediately have in front of their face what Champlain is all about. And the Emergent Media Center really gives our students an experience and the ability to work on real life projects. And the faculty and the students that did this and produced this so that the whole community can share it is a testament to what goes on behind those walls at Champlain College.”

The Champlain College Sandbox team creates new and novel digital designs through the media center. Junior James Keats, who is majoring in game programming, says they use new and old technology in innovative ways to make cool devices.  “Graffiniti and Flight are two very different projects but they both go back to that core idea of using technology in new ways. Graffiniti is virtual finger painting. Flight meanwhile is you get up in front of it you stick your arms out, you become a plane on the screen you fly around. I consider both of these pieces to be art installations. You know it lets you sort of recapture that favorite thing we all did as a kid which is pretend to be a plane. And Graffiniti lets you be an artist.”

At the Graffiniti display in the South Terminal people were trying to control the paintbox. “And then the right hand is the brush.”

Sandbox team Faculty Advisor Terrence Sehr stood nearby. He says installations in public areas like the airport are incredible motivating for his students.  “It's very much the kind of motivation that we want to have for students to be able to say yes I've created this thing but now it's out in the public and people can appreciate it. That's a huge thing.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger says the unveiling of “Flight” and “Graffitini” is an exciting kick-off to Burlington’s Innovation Week, which is showcasing the city’s emerging technology sector.   “Something that is sending a very important and critical message to travelers that this is a city of innovation and that that innovation runs through everything we do.”  

Champlain College was named the most innovative school in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges 2016 ranking of regional colleges in the North.