December 1, 2017
Silver Oaks designs custom interactive touchscreen programs for clients all over the country. We’ve created games for science museums, way-finding guides for zoos, informational kiosks for hospitals, and driving simulators for history museums. Each one of these interactive experiences have unique interfaces, sounds and content. And although color schemes, content, and special effects are fun and important steps of designing an interactive, perhaps the most important part of the process is designing and programming the attract loop.
Hold up. What’s an attract loop?
You know the term ‘screen saver’? Well, an attract loop is just that.
Back in the day, interactive programs were used on CRT (cathode ray tube) or plasma screens. These behemoths were not exactly svelte. If the program sat on a static screen for too long, the image on the screen would burn in, causing a ghosted image that would appear on all other interfaces in the program. That’s where the ‘screen saver’ comes in. If the pixels could keep changing, the burn in and ghosting wouldn’t happen. Thus the screen saver. Get it? Screen saver? It saves the screen.
Today, we use LED screens for interactive touchscreen programs and the risk of a burned in image is much less, but screen savers are still important to keep the pixels moving. In addition to mechanical reasons, attract loops serve other important functions as well.
An attract loop is a screen that, well…attracts users to the kiosk or monitor to interact with the program. It also serves as a teaser for the content within the actual program. Often, it is a simple screen with some motion and a phrase such as “touch here to begin.” Other times floating photos or videos are creatively integrated to draw the user in. If the attract loop isn’t visually appealing, users won’t be inclined to interact or even know that they can interact with it. Typically the program will timeout after about 90 seconds and reset to the attract loop so that everyone using the program can start at the same place.
Attract loops are like brewing beer?
Making the attract loop allows our designers to really use their creativity and eye for design. Interestingly, while this is the first thing the visitor sees when they approach an interactive kiosk, it’s usually the last thing that our designers and programmers develop. The designers study the program’s fonts, color scheme, and general look to develop an appropriate attract loop. According to Silver Oaks designer, Danny O’Leary, “It’s like putting all the ingredients together for a great beer, brewing it, and then sticking a beautiful bottle cap on top.”
Check out some examples of past attract loops Silver Oaks has created over the years. Enjoy!