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Election night 2020 was filled with plenty of drama and emotion. But taking the politics out of it for a moment, one topic that captured the attention of many Americans was the ‘Magic Wall’.
This year, all major TV news outlets are making generous use of augmented reality and 3D graphics to help display information through giant charts and graphs.
But perhaps the biggest winner of the night – from a technology standpoint – was the Magic Wall presented by CNN’s John King.
The multi-touch collaboration wall is a large 81″ x 48″ monitor that employs multi-touch technology. Initially developed for military applications, the screen was purchased by CNN after David Borhman, who is in charge of CNN’s coverage of politics, “fell in love” with the device at a military intelligence show. It was first used by CNN in 2008.
Part of the appeal is simply John King’s proficiency with the wall. But the biggest advantage is its ability to make the numbers and data more accessible to its viewers and to relay them visually, as many viewers lose interest in merely verbal explanations.
The software allows the user to access, manipulate and project data related to current poll results, and election results of the past and present. For instance, the user could bring up the total delegate counts for Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) during the 2008 US Democratic primary race. He could bring a map of the state that was then having a primary election, collect live vote tallies, or bring up pie charts for vote distribution in each county. He could project how voting in a particular county could affect who won the state.
For the national presidential election, it can be used to display a map reflecting recent state-by-state poll results, which are also used to project electoral vote totals for each respective party. Current toss-up states can also be assigned Democratic or Republican status to create hypothetical election scenarios.
You know the technology is impactful when it incites memes and parodies, such as a 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live where Fred Armisen used it to move states around where they don’t belong asking questions like, “What would happen if New Hampshire got moved down to Mexico?”
Interactive technology like the Magic Wall have a lot of beneficial applications in the workplace, too.