Cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas took its first voyage in 201g with an experiential video wall on its main esplanade, using nine different pieces of themed, reactive content.
The permanent 8’ x 20’ digital art wall reacts to each person passing by, and can be controlled through gestural interactivity. It was put together by Boston’s Materials & Methods, and Montreal’s Float4 and its technology division, RealMotion. The project uses RealMotion’s content control system.
An infrared camera tracks the movements of each passersby, and interactive programming translates their motion to visual effect, Materials & Methods explains on its website. The visual content moves seamlessly between LCD screens and the lower resolution LED areas of the canvas, sharpened and softened respectively as the content spreads like pools of paint off of the high resolution displays.
“When designing Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean wanted to create an entirely new standard for guest experiences,” adds RealMotion Chief Technology Officer Sevan Dalkian. “They wanted to instill a ‘wow’ factor in every part of the ship’s public spaces. RealMotion technology was selected as the backbone for Materials & Methods’ vision for this first of its kind, constantly changing and evolving, gesture-driven art wall on the ship’s main esplanade that engages all 4,180 double-occupancy passengers who travel on the ship.”
Adds Dalkian: As interactive content producers, Float4’s team integrated the creative assets to bring the concept to life. A wide sweeping gesture can brush across the image, altering color or pattern, creating ripples, causing flowers to bloom or particles to disperse, revealing colors or adding layers. A short, sharp motion alters the canvas differently, giving the user the ability to paint with a quickly learned movement “language.” Watching the vibrant canvas respond to bodies in space is arresting, and invites an audience of every type of passenger to want to engage and play.
I like the mix and match of high-rez LCDs with low-rez diffuser panels. Big impact but lower capital costs.
This is very impressive – a 20-foot tall direct view LED wall sync’d with seven 72-inch LCD monitors that crawl up and down the wall on side-by-side tracks, showing information about the human brain and the scientists pushing the boundaries of neuroscience research.
The monitors, when down at eye-level, are interactive, and when sliding up and down in sequences amplify and sharpen the lower resolution images behind them on the larger LED wall.
The multiscreen floor-to-ceiling work, Brain Index, loops through large-scale models of the brain while telling the stories of individual researchers and their quests to push the boundaries of neuroscience.
“We’re trying to make the science in the building accessible and personal, and at the same time communicate how much we have yet to learn,” said Laura Kurgan, one of the work’s creators and an associate professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “The brain is this messy mystery of billions and billions of neurons.”
Three years in the making, the permanent exhibit is the brainchild of Kurgan, who also directs the Center for Spatial Research at the Architecture School, and Mark Hansen, professor and director of the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the Graduate School of Journalism. Their work was commissioned by Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and it brings together art and science. It is designed to spark the same sense of wonder and curiosity in the public that drives the institute’s researchers.
“This collaboration, like the Zuckerman Institute itself, aims to promote a collision of ideas—both within and between the sciences, social sciences and humanities,” said Thomas M. Jessell, co-director of Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.
The ground floor of the Greene Science Center is open to the public and serves as a neighborhood resource for brain science education. Across from the Brain Index is the Education Lab, which hosts a variety of hands-on programs year-round.
“It extends our mission to every person who walks through our lobby by giving them a vivid sense of what we’re trying to accomplish upstairs and why it matters,” said Kelley Remole, the Zuckerman Institute’s director of education and outreach.
The Brain Index features a wall-sized screen and multiple displays that show three different visualizations of the brain, sometimes simultaneously: the brain’s outer surface, the networks of blood vessels that feed it and the tangles of connections that link different regions. Based on scientific data, the visualizations take the viewer on a road trip of sorts as the camera pans, tilts and zooms to reveal new places from unexpected angles.
Snapshots of Zuckerman Institute researchers are superimposed on these maps of the brain. Eight scientists are introduced sequentially, along with interactive displays tied to the parts of the brain they study. Playful headlines sum up their work: “Fish Food for Thought” describes neuroscientist Nathaniel Sawtell’s search for analogs between electric fish and human electric brains, and “Go with the Flow” describes biomedical engineer Elizabeth Hillman’s study of how blood flow affects brain function and development. More researcher profiles are scheduled to be added in the coming months.
The installation’s emphasis on electronic data is a continuation of Kurgan and Hansen’s first collaboration, Exit, a visualization of global migration patterns that explored why people leave home. While the Brain Index looks inward, both share a desire to inform and educate. The Brain Index also builds on Hansen’s portfolio of public installations—he helped create the Shakespeare Machine in the lobby of the Public Theater as well as Moveable Type, a large-scale piece in the entry of the New York Times Building, another iconic building designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the architectural firm that designed the Greene Science Center.
“The Brain Index is meant to teach and capture the public’s imagination,” said Hansen. “That was our only design constraint. The human-sized moving screens navigate the research taking place in the building and, like opening doors, invite the public to step up and explore.”
I’m not seeing as much data visualization as I might have expected by now on large video walls – given how great dataviz creative can solve the dual problems of keeping content fresh while also controlling content budgets.
But here’s a great example of dataviz in action in the lobby of Stockholm-based online payment company Klarna. When the company opened its new head office in 2014, they put in a video wall that runs dynamic charting that reflects payments activities in 15 countries.
Klarna does more than 100,000 transactions per day, and the visualizations provide a fluid, moving reflection of what’s going on, in near real-time.
Instead of hiding the characteristics of the 4×4 screen-based media wall, the grid structure became an integral part of the layout used in the design of the various graphs. These represent the volume of transactions sorted by categories and subcategories, the transactions per day, the number of sales by different countries and cities, and the types of purchases made, based on the customer demographics. The data behind these visualizations is continually updated, thereby becoming a real-time representation of Klarna’s business activity.
Nicely done, though white is not the best background for big walls like this. White really accentuates the seams and the lighting properties of the displays.