With the help of modern audiovisual systems, anyone can be in the museum business, from corporations to government institutions (see the Best Government AV Project). In 2010, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, telecommunications company Qualcomm wanted a museum of its own to commemorate the company’s history. Contractors demolished office space at the company’s San Diego headquarters to create blank slate, then installed raised flooring, recessed cove lighting, acoustically treated surfaces, and curved walls to help guide visitors through the exhibits. AV consultant and Spotlight Award–winner Nautilus Entertainment Design came up with 14 separate interactive systems to tell Qualcomm’s story, each with touchscreen displays, Flash video players, and localized audio that doesn’t leak sound into other areas of the museum.
Infrastructure construction and AV design often happened in parallel. When building what would be called Wave Walls, designers had to make the curved walls modular enough to contain backlit panels, display cases, or video screens, depending on what Qualcomm and museum designer Showtec decided should go where. The museum’s most innovative Wave Walls include large video displays composed of several Christie Digital Systems MicroTiles, which are 20-inch diagonal building blocks illuminated by LED technology. The challenge? Turning the MicroTile displays into interactive exhibits. Because MicroTiles are serviced from the front (should anything go wrong), the large, glass, touchscreen overlays had to be installed on large hinges attached to the Wave Walls themselves. Each Wave Wall also hides a recessed Panaphonics overhead speaker that aims audio directly at the visitor standing in front of the display.