Solar-Powered Digital Ugrade given by Classic Tower Optical Viewer

Design consultancy Pensa has ripped out the internals of this iconic tourist spot mainstay and brought it into the digital age. The visitors to a New York neighborhood are now being given the opportunity to travel through time and learn about DUMBO's past and present.

The Tower Optical Digital Viewer on the DUMBO waterfront

Tower Optical has been manufacturing its iconic binocular viewers for over 80 years now. The chrome plated bronze housing sits atop a cast iron base, and can be rotated 360° on the horizontal axis, and tilted up by 45° and down by 22°. There's a slot underneath the eye pieces for receiving 25 cent coins, and a lever next door feeds the beast to offer the user a few minutes of viewing pleasure before everything blacks out.
This version of the Digital Viewer gets its power needs from a cafe umbrella, which has its own battery pack that's charged via PV panels up top.

The Pensa team modifying a Tower Optical Viewer

Late last year, the Pensa design consultancy partnered with the family-owned business to modify the internals of a pair of its classic viewers to create the Tower Optical Digital Viewer..

Work begins on the digital conversion of the Tower Optical Viewer

Pensa has made some reliability improvements and given the Viewer a bit of a video and slideshow refresh. It's been installed on Old Fulton Street and Water Street in the DUMBO (District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn, and allows users to embark on a virtual journey through the neighborhood's recent history.

The original optics and mechanisms were removed to make room for the electronics

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Write by: RC - Thursday, August 22, 2013

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