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VOL. 129 | NO. 97 | Monday, May 19, 2014


Mind Over Data Captures Imagination With Touch Screens

By Andy Meek

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Mind Over Data is one of those Memphis companies that tends to fly under the radar, even though its high-tech handiwork can be found across the country and easily touches the imagination of people who encounter it.

Interactive, touch-screen kiosks are a kind of specialty for the firm, which, in one example of its work, was chosen to develop a dozen of them for The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla. One of the project’s main kiosks was 9 feet tall and allowed multiple users to browse information about the iconic folksinger via an interactive map.

Mind Over Data co-managing directors Kevin Barnes, left, and Tom Kirstein in the new Fire Safety Arcade at the Fire Museum of Memphis.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Other kiosks the firm developed for the center allowed visitors to browse photos, Guthrie’s writings, audio recordings, videos and more. One even allowed users to type song lyrics into a digital version of an Olympia typewriter, the same kind Guthrie used to crank out some of his most well-known compositions.

“We’ve always done custom development,” said Tom Kirstein, managing partner of Mind Over Data, a custom software development firm founded in 2002 that, in addition to specializing in interactive, touch-screen kiosks, also has expertise in mobile applications for Android and iPhone; business process automation; development of portals, intranets and extranets; and knowledge management and collaboration.

Mind Over Data’s other managing partner is Kevin Barnes.

“If somebody wants to have something created – a lot of companies, like SAP, they make you change your business in order to match your software,” Kirstein said. “The reasoning behind that is they set up a process that’s as generic as possible, and if you want to customize it, it costs a lot of money. What we do is, people come in and say they want this system that does this, this and this. And we say, ‘Well, we’ve seen in the past where it’s worked differently,’ and they say, ‘OK, we can manage that.’ So it’s custom development. If you can dream it, we can build it.”

Mind Over Data was tapped to work on the Guthrie museum project by GTOO Media, an exhibit media design firm out of Silver Spring, Md. The two firms have also worked together on interactive exhibits for the Grammy Museum, the National Museum of Health & Medicine, the Nixon Library Watergate Exhibit and the Ray Charles Ray of Light Museum.

Closer to home, Mind Over Data’s clients have included FedEx, International Paper and the Fire Museum of Memphis. At the fire museum, the firm recently completed a major installation of kiosks as part of a slew of upgrades to its educational programs and exhibits focused on fire prevention and life safety.

Inside the Downtown headquarters of First Horizon National Corp., the Memphis-based parent company of First Tennessee Bank, is an interactive exhibit in which Mind Over Data had a hand. The company partnered with another local firm, Design500, to create a pair of touch screens that show what was happening in the U.S. and in Tennessee when certain milestones were happening at First Tennessee. It coincides with the firm’s 150th anniversary this year.

Some of Mind Over Data’s other recent work includes the development of an innovative tablet-based survey and reporting system with remote Internet printing for Acorn Research and an interactive application for Hilton Homewood Suites.

The latter helps hotel staff improve quality in the food and beverage area.

“Mind Over Data grew out of a company called Universal Solutions that was sold to another company,” Kirstein said. “That company laid people off, and I was like, who wants to start another company doing custom work?

“We’re up to around 10, 12 employees right now. Most are developers. We usually contract with partners to do the hardware, and most of the systems we’ve done over the years have been for companies like FedEx, International Paper, Wright Medical, companies like that.”

The firm has begun trying to raise its profile, he added, in an effort to let more people know it’s in town.

“We’re not a huge corporation, but every single developer is very good and used to doing custom work,” Kirstein said, adding, in a demonstration of the firm’s commitment to its work, “We’re still supporting things we wrote 10, 12 years ago.”

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