Projects: Chicago’s United Center Opens Highly Interactive Fan Store
August 17, 2017 by Dave Haynes
The new 10,000 sq. ft. fan store store at Chicago’s United Center – home to the NBA Bulls and NHL Blackhawks – includes several digital interactive features designed to immerse people in the culture and excitement of the teams.
The Madhouse Team Store, in the United Center’s new east expansion area, is there to sell high margin sweaters, T-shirts, hats and lots of other stuff with logos.
To pull people in and keep them around, a press release says the new store includes:
- The Interactive Timeline: An immersive video presentation appearing on a 10-foot-wide interactive monitor allowing multiple fans to simultaneously explore the Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ ongoing evolution of their respective sports;
- Call the Game: An interactive audio booth casting Bulls and Blackhawks fans as sportscasters to record original color commentary over their favorite in-game moments, and then save and share their performances on social media;
- The Bulls and Blackhawks Photo Booth: In this customized photo booth, fans are photographically immersed within their favorite United Center game moments, where again, the spectacular results can easily be shared using social media and email.
Chicago-based creative agency Leviathan was commissioned to conceive, create and program all the new interactive digital content, and put it together with systems integrator Whitlock.
“Leviathan’s marketing technology at the Madhouse Team Store has been a great success for our guests of all ages,” says Craig Geffrey, United Center’s director of retail operations. “With past projects for Nike, BMW, Callaway, STARZ, and many others, Leviathan was the clear choice for our interactive deployment elements. Their technology in the CTA car and the touch screen timeline has been a huge value add to the shopping experiences for our Bulls and Blackhawks fans at the United Center.”
“People from across the globe visit the United Center to immerse themselves in the excitement and cultures of the Bulls and the Blackhawks,” adds Chad Hutson, Leviathan’s president. “The collective team behind the new interactive experiences has leveraged the rich histories of both franchises, as well as the incredible passions of their fan bases, to design and deliver truly unforgettable activities that are entertaining, engaging and exclusively available at the Madhouse Team Store.”
The press release adds:
Strategically located throughout the store, Leviathan’s installations creatively address this guiding principle: Two teams, one thread. Directly focusing on that thread, the Interactive Timeline is designed with discreet function sets which present unique “game day” themes for each team, as well as non-game day themes. The results provide an ultra-sophisticated, infinitely resourceful digital exploration of two Chicago dynasties united under one historic roof.
Programming for The Interactive Timeline’s touch screen is divided into thirds, where each section responds independently to user input. “The Interactive Timeline posed some serious technical challenges,” explained Austin Mayer, Leviathan’s interactive director. “Displaying hundreds of images and videos simultaneously, while maintaining a high frame rate and responsive touch input, required some advanced wizardry. We were able to optimize the experience using GLSL, the official OpenGL Shading Language, using our design weapon of choice: Derivative’s TouchDesigner.”
TouchDesigner was also the key for delivering the themed, packaged content underlying the Call the Game and Photo Booth installations, and enabling every interactive feature. According to Mayer, the team used the Twilio cloud communications platform to facilitate MMS texting to fans, while relying on Python for email delivery of the customized game calls and booth photos.
I like the snappiness of that interactive video wall. Nothing clunky at all about the experience, which is important because users expect a screen – no matter its size – to be just as responsive and easy as their smartphone screens.