EarCam

Project: A kiosk where visitors can take pictures of their ears, measure them with a computer program, and compare them to the ears of others on a computer-generated graph.  It must be more fun than it sounds because this kiosk gets about 200 hits per day.  (We know because the ear-measuring program stores all the data the visitors enter. ) As an interesting aside, we tried this exhibit first with noses, and very few visitors would participate. Apparently, people do not like to take pictures of their noses, but have no problem storing images of their ears in a database.  Go figure.

Concept drawing for EarCam arm.

Challenges: This exhibit uses a kiosk that I built for another exhibit that is no longer around. My instructions for the original kiosk design were that I was to “echo, but not copy” other exhibit kiosks in the area. I have provided a picture of one of the other kiosks for comparison.  Whether or not I was successful is up to each viewer, but I was pleased with the result.

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EarCam Kiosk

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Kiosk to be “Echoed”

Anyway, the other exhibit being gone, we decided to repurpose the kiosk, and the EarCam was next in line. As a matter of carpentry, the adaption of this kiosk was fairly simple: add the monitor mount, the 3D ear model (upper left) rescued from the scrap heap, and attach the graphics.  Also, we added a Corian countertop that we had cut especially for this exhibit. The challenge was how to make the EarCam usable for the visitor.

Solutions: We tried several methods, but settled on the idea of a mechanical arm that would support a Plexiglas box into which the tiny EarCam would be put. I constructed a parallel arm swivel from ¼ inch aluminum stock with a bicycle handle at the bottom of the camera attachment.  The parallel arm ensures that the camera stays horizontal no matter what position the arm is in.  The handlebar grip gives the visitor a comfortable place to position the swing arm and helps call attention to the EarCam.  The Plexi box has an ear-sized hole in one end and the other end is attached to the swing arm.  This arrangement serves two purposes: 1) the Plexi box protects the camera and 2) ensures that the visitor’s ear is the proper distance from the camera when the picture is taken.

EarCam Boom, Lower Position

EarCam Boom, Lower Position

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EarCam Boom at Ear Level