Do you still have tech support PTSD from the last time your business-critical equipment needed servicing, and each support person kept passing you through to the next, who was actually the same person but their memory had been erased, so you had to explain the problem all over again in great detail, only to hear the same advice that didn’t work the last three times?
If you’re in an industry like education or healthcare where interactive features haven’t been part of the core experience, there can be a lot you don’t know.
No one wants to make a mistake. But fear of making a mistake shouldn’t keep you from making a decision.
Museums have been designing interactive experiences for decades, and even they still make mistakes. It’s not all lightning bolts and eureka moments.
You don’t always know what you don’t know about an exhibit that took three years to build—until it stops working on day two of opening weekend.
Despite its high-tech appearance, the Everbright has a straightforward, modular design. This interactive light wall was designed from day one to be serviced by laypeople who aren’t engineers or electricians. Prior to developing the Everbright, our lead designer worked with the exhibits staff at The Exploratorium, learning first-hand what it takes to maintain high-contact interactive exhibits. This experience is incorporated into every element of the Everbright’s design to make it as easy to service as possible.
In this guide, we’ll cover the five potential reasons a customer might need technical support for their Everbright. We’ll cover each problem in detail so you understand the causes. You’ll also get an overview of the solutions and prevention strategies.
Here are five issues that could affect an Everbright (and their solutions):
What’s the problem? The Everbright has a built-in timer. When no twist has been detected in several minutes, the board automatically resets itself. If your Everbright is configured to run an animation, the animation will begin. When a new user comes up and twists a dial, they’ll get a clean, fresh canvas.
You should also be able to erase designs manually using the blue function button on the top of the board. Pressing the green button allows you to cycle through the various interactive canvases available.
Sometimes the Everbright stops erasing and running animations. The function buttons don’t seem to work. Visitors don’t notice. They don’t know they could have had a fresh, clean canvas. They’re in discovery mode. No problem here. However, staff will notice something’s up. The buttons don’t erase, and the animations don’t run.
The software that listens for button presses and runs the animations has stopped running. This happens by failing to power off the Everbright each day. If you leave your Everbright powered on 24/7, it will eventually stop running animations or erasing.
Why this happens: The Everbright has a computer that needs to be reset by completely powering off each day. It cannot be left on all the time. The Everbright doesn’t ship with a power switch, so installation instructions require the owner to install a separate power switch (like a light switch) somewhere in the room so staff can power the unit on and off.
Here’s how to resolve the problem if it occurs:
Less common cause: The memory card has been damaged by someone flicking the power switch on and off rapidly in quick succession, like a fidget toy.
If someone has been using the power switch as a fidget toy, you may need to take the board off the wall to replace its memory card. (This is very uncommon, but only takes 5 minutes to resolve once the board is lifted off its cleat and you can access the back.)
We took steps to prevent tampering with the power switch by removing the power switch from the Everbright’s design.
What’s the problem? The Everbright transmits a private Wifi signal, similar in functionality to a bluetooth. It is not related or connected to the internet in any way. A tablet that ships with the Everbright is configured to connect to the Everbright’s private wifi signal. This tablet is preloaded with a licensed copy of the Everbright app, which lets the owner configure and customize their Everbright wirelessly. Sometimes the tablet won’t connect to the Everbright, or keeps dropping the connection.
Most common cause:
Someone has used the tablet to connect to the internet, and didn’t delete this internet Wifi access point from the tablet’s settings when they were finished.
The Everbright signal is the only Wifi signal that the tablet should be able to connect to.
If the tablet has been used to connect to the building’s internet Wifi, then the tablet will try to connect to the Wifi associated with the internet first. This will cause connection problems with the Everbright.
Use the tablet only to configure and customize the Everbright. Do not use the tablet to connect to the internet.
Occasionally, we at Hero Design release updates to the Everbright app, such as new features and new interactive canvases. When a new version is available, and we’ll email the point person to let you know.
You’ll need to connect to the internet to download the latest version. Once you have done this, you should delete the connection to your building’s internet Wifi from the list in the tablet’s settings.
Here’s how to resolve the problem if it occurs:
Less common cause: The Everbright was left powered on for days and weeks at a time.
If the Everbright was left powered on for several days or weeks, you’ll might notice that the animations aren’t working and the board isn’t erasing. Just as in the problem above, you’ll need to:
What’s the problem? Eventually, over years of use, you may notice a pixel lose a color channel, likely red. The other colors are there—just not colors with red. How many pixels will you need to replace, and when? That depends on a number of factors.
3 critical factors to pixel longevity:
If you’ve ever typed “how long does an LED last?” into a search engine, you’ve seen that 500,000-hour figure. But just because an LED can last that long doesn’t mean it will. A number of factors influence the actual lifespan and longevity of an LED, and many of these factors were considered in the Everbright’s design itself and have been incorporated into the current edition.
1. Duration and intensity of use.
Longevity is a key consideration in every design decision we make. For example:
2. Manufacturing quality.
The quality of the manufacturer is just as critical to pixel longevity as the quality of the LEDs themselves. Even high-quality LEDs won’t last very long if the manufacturer of the pixel used improper methods to integrate them into the circuitry. One sign of poor manufacturing quality is flickering. This happened to a couple of Everbrights in the field in our second edition, and we resolved the problem by offering these customers full pixel replacements on site by our team, at no charge. Now we have a carefully selected group of manufacturers that we work with, and we subject every pixel to multiple tests and inspections prior to shipping.
3. Ventilation and Heat Dissipation.
The cooler LEDs are kept, the longer they will last. Everything behind the Everbright is designed to maximize airflow and to keep the entire system as cool as possible.
The pixels are designed to last years without the need to replace them. Here are some additional steps that owners, staff, and facilities can take:
Here’s how to replace a pixel:
Text or email us and we’ll send you a replacement pixel along with a video and step-by-step instructions. You’ll need access to the back of the board. If your Everbright is mounted to a wall, schedule a time for 2 strong people to lift it off the cleat so they can access the back. The replacement itself doesn’t take more than a couple minutes.
Here are the steps:
What’s the problem? The dials on the front of the board are durable and do not come off, but very few things in this world are 100% indestructible. Extreme, kinetic force (such as a hard kick with a boot in the right place) can cause cracks or chips to the black wooden ring around the lens. If your Everbright is in a high-traffic, highly kinetic area, such as next to a trampoline or a giant pin wall, you may have the rare cap crack or chip if children are kicking it often.
A modular design means the Everbright can still be used. The lens itself will still be intact.
Of all the Everbrights installed in high-use spaces with hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, this has only happened a couple of times. It’s still extremely rare for as much use as these boards get.
You can reduce the chances someone will kick the lower dials by mounting the Everbright high enough that older kids can easily interact with it, but not so low that they can accidentally run into it with their feet. We recommend a mounting height of 16 to 18 inches off the ground, if kicking or climbing is a concern.
Here’s how to resolve the problem if it occurs:
You may be able to epoxy on a replacement cap ring (we can send this to you) if it has been removed entirely and you still have it. If the ring is broken or chipped, you may need to replace the entire dial. Replacing the entire dial will require you to take the board off the wall and access the back. We’ll send you the dial as well as the instructions to do the repair at no charge.
What’s the problem? The lens is 1/8 inch thick and injection-molded with specialty acrylic. It is very difficult to crack or break, even on purpose. 99% of our customers have never had an issue, and most Everbrights are installed in public spaces. But it is important to be aware of the risk of something like this happening, so you can take steps to mitigate and prevent issues.
Sometimes people bring frustration and difficult emotions to the Everbright. Maybe they’re in crisis. Maybe they just feel like breaking things, which can be its own form of twisted creativity. You would need a sharp, heavy tool, privacy, and the intent to do serious damage. In the process, you’d make a lot of noise and attract some attention, too.
Most of these issues can be prevented. The need for troubleshooting is rare when our installation requirements are followed. Some known issues in our first editions were resolved through product engineering and design, as well as field upgrades.
The Everbright was designed so we would have the time to provide responsive and thorough support on the rare occasion it’s needed. When a problem does occur, most people don’t notice. Your visitors can continue to turn the dials and use the creative canvas. This lowers the stakes significantly. You can resolve the issue at your convenience—or whenever facilities can make the time to access the back of the unit.
Keeping up with regular servicing schedules will save you the headache of dealing with the majority of common problems so you can enjoy many years of use in your space without needing technical support.