Bank HQ Puts In Reactive Digital Koi Pond As Calming Oasis For Staffers, But Tops It With Big TVs???

June 23, 2023 by Dave Haynes

My first reaction to this interesting set-up in a common area of a corporate campus is “Hmmm ….”

Like tilting my head and rubbing my chin “Hmmm …”

Like I get what the bank and solutions providers were going for, but not sure it gets there – creating a reactive digital koi pond that people can sit around to relax and “center” themselves, but topping the thing with a four-sided display wall that looks straight out of a bus or airport terminal, with the TVs running broadcast business TV.

The project was put in by Red Dot Digital Media for what is described as a major banking institution headquartered in Los Angeles.

From PR:

The project, located in the 2Cal building at California Plaza in the Bunker Hill area of Downtown LA, is a centerpiece of the bank’s corporate headquarters and has become a popular gathering point for employees throughout the day.

The koi pond is comprised of a pair of 85-inch NEC displays connected to a PC, joined side-by-side and mounted face up, with a large TSItouch overlay turning the two screens into a single, large interactive touch screen. The displays can also be connected to a BrightSign HD224 media player split to both screens to temporarily display preloaded content whenever the PC is taken offline for maintenance or to perform content updates.

“From a distance, the koi pond is visually stunning, but people really light up when they realize they can digitally interact with the environment via touch screen,” says Mark Castro, Western Territory Sales Manager at TSItouch. “The biggest challenge of creating a convincing natural environment is building an interactive experience that is unique, with each element of the pond responding to touch in a way that is nearly identical to what someone might see at an outdoor koi pond with live fish and plants.”

The koi are designed to swim around in randomized patterns, and they respond to touch. A tap of the glass drops fish food to draw the fish over, much like they would in their natural environment. Similarly, when someone swipes their hand on the glass, the surface of the water is disrupted and ripples emanate outward – the fish scurry away and the aquatic plants respond as the water current is disrupted.

“Integrating a virtual koi pond into a corporate setting is one of the most creative digital signage applications we’ve been involved with in quite some time,” says  Darryl Kuder, President of Red Dot Digital Media. “It’s visually striking and not something you expect to see in a corporate setting. But what’s most impressive about this project are the interactive capabilities that draw people in and invite them to interact with the virtual environment in ways they might not expect at first glance.”

In addition to the interactive elements, the koi pond is fully customizable with the ability to change the color of the water, while adding logs, rocks and three types of aquatic plants. A total of 20 different koi can be added to the pond, each with distinct colors, patterns and sizes.

Adjustments can also be made to change the color of the bottom of the pond, while adding or removing leaves and lilies from the pond’s surface. The pond is set to automatically reflect the time of day, with a 24-hour cycle that dynamically changes the ambient brightness and the angle of shadows cast on the bottom of the pond depending on where the sun shines at different times of day.

Perhaps the most striking attribute of the interactive koi pond is the ability to virtually feed the koi. An intuitive touch-interactive menu lets people select the food they wish to offer and scatter the food in the pond with a simple tap of the glass. The koi recognize where the food is dropped, and they eagerly swim to and eat the pellets as they fall to the bottom of the pond.

The koi pond also features night mode and sleep mode, giving the bank the ability to customize the appearance further and conserve energy when not in use. Night mode is tied to the time of day and automatically adjusts screen brightness depending on the hour. The screens remain on but darken significantly at night before gradually returning to full brightness as the sun rises. Sleep mode enables the bank to manually dim the screens for a period of two, four, six or eight hours, with the displays powering back up as soon as someone touches one of the screens.

The project was a success, and the virtual koi pond has quickly become a popular gathering point for employees during breaks and after work hours. Using technology to infuse natural elements to the bank’s common area achieved the intended result of giving employees a calming place to center themselves and connect with nature while still in the workplace.

I do like the idea of using displays and touch overlays to create a koi pond setting, but the TVs that sit like a center-hung arena scoreboard over the thing seem to ruin the effect. I am judging this off photos, and it could well be one of those “You really have to see this in person” things.  The PR person even put “this is something that really needs to be seen to be appreciated” in his cover note, which suggests I’m not the only one looking at this with a tilted head.

It would seem, at least, that some plants, softened edges, maybe even audio focused over that area would hit the calming and centering mark more than a raised bank of TVs with amped-up anchors hollering about the state of the commodities market.

If I had to guess, I’d imagine the customer insisted on the TVs being part of the “experience.”

  1. Wes Dixon says:

    A perfect example of 2+2=1

  2. Ken Goldberg says:

    Note that the benches are clearly designed to have the people seated on them facing away from the virtual koi pond. The TVs appear to make swiveling around to observe the cool pond somewhat challenging. Betting the designers were overruled by the bank on the TVs, which is a shame.

Leave a comment