Case Study: Explore, Explain, and Sustain Life on Earth

UTC All-in-One Touch Computer Success Story – California Academy of Sciences

Tiffany Iskandar

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The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution in San Francisco, California. It is one of the largest natural history museums in the world and is home to various exhibits and research facilities covering a wide range of scientific disciplines. 

The institution was founded in 1853 and had a long and rich history of promoting scientific research and education. Located in Golden Gate Park, the institute houses a planetarium, an aquarium, a natural history museum, and a rainforest exhibit under a living roof, covered with over 1.7 million native California plants, making it one of the most eco-friendly museums in the world. 

System Requirement 

As one of the largest natural history museums in the world, the institution requires cutting-edge technology to operate and manage various aspects of the institution efficiently. The previous installations were too future-forward, and the right technology did not exist then. The institution’s Manager of Exhibits & Electronics Engineering, Tosh Chiang, mentioned that they were putting together systems that worked very well but were unreliable over the long run and had problems with redundancy, deployment, and scaling. Overall, it was a lot of maintenance. 

How Advantech Came into Play

After much research into similar manufacturers, the Academy Engineering team decided to test the UTC All-in-One Touch Computer. Advantech’s support team and the customizable feature of the unit met what was required for the unit to be operational.

The institute did a small deployment in the Steinhart Aquarium for one gallery, and after the success of that, it did it over about three other galleries. Hence, the entire aquarium has all Advantech devices for digital displays. Most recently, the units were installed in their newest gallery, the Hidden Wonders.  

Why Advantech?

The UTC All-in-One Touch Computer has allowed the institute’s creative studio, exhibit studio, and interactive developers to tailor their touchscreen experience for their visitors. What was key here is that the institute Engineering team could work directly with Advantech service and engineers to get the product onsite to be customized exactly how they want, find flaws, and look for new improvements. This feedback will go back to the Advantech team, which will generate a new quote with the latest specifications. 

How has Advantech made a positive impact? 

With the solution, the institute has saved about 75% of time and deployment and achieved a greater than 99% uptime. On top of that, these devices have been virtually maintenance-free, which has given them more freedom to work on other projects. The fundamental metric is the nearly one million people who use these devices 365 days a year to learn more about their 46 million specimens.  


The California Academy of Sciences is a popular destination for tourists and families and a hub for scientific research and conservation efforts. The institution’s scientists conduct research on a wide range of topics, including biodiversity, climate change, and sustainability. Its mission is to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth, promoting an understanding of the natural world and its importance. 

Visitors to the academy can learn about the wonders of the natural world, explore the universe through the planetarium, and gain insights into ongoing scientific research and discoveries. It remains a valuable resource for science education and environmental awareness in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. 

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