Interactive Exhibit Tells the Story of Operation Smile’s Mission to Provide Cleft Care Around the Globe


  • Operation Smile


  • Virginia Beach, VA


  • 2021-Present


  • Colossus
  • audio
  • handset
  • custom hardware
  • Unity

by Hugh McDonald, executive producer November 18th, 2021

Ideum was honored to work with Operation Smile, one of the world’s largest medical nonprofits, to create a compelling interactive experience illustrating the organization’s international work in treating cleft lip and cleft palate. Installed earlier this year at the Anthony L. and Hideko S. Burgess Interactive Learning Center in Virginia Beach, VA, the exhibit allows guests to learn the stories of children around the globe whose lives have been changed by the free surgery and comprehensive cleft care provided by Operation Smile’s network of medical volunteers.

Cleft conditions affect about 1 in 700 children born around the world, and children in low- and middle-income countries with limited access to medical care are especially vulnerable. Many families lack access to surgery and essential treatments, including speech therapy, psychosocial care, dentistry, orthodontics, nutritional support, and more.

Boy and Girl interact with application using mutitouch table and handheld audio peripherals.

Plastic surgeon Bill Magee and his wife Kathy Magee, a nurse and clinical social worker, founded Operation Smile in 1982 when they and a team of volunteers journeyed to the Philippines to repair children’s cleft conditions. Since then, Operation Smile has blossomed into an international network providing surgery, speech therapy, dentistry, and supportive care in over 30 countries. To date, the nonprofit has provided more than 326,000 patients with free surgery and dental care.

Woman places stethoscope on child while other children wait for examination.

The exhibit runs on a custom Ideum Colossus multitouch table multitouch table, which offers a massive interactive surface for groups to learn about cleft conditions through the stories of nine children—Faustina, Lorraine, Siham, Lexxi, Ramata, Bipul, Joseph, Erick Manuel, and Bui—just a few of the people touched by Operation Smile’s global mission. The exhibit was designed with both a multi-station, audio handset-equipped Browse Mode for individual exploration and a Presenter Mode for docent-led events.

The Colossus Table running the application and displaying a map of the world. Images courtesy of Operation Smile.