Limbic Media

Limbic Media

Category: multisensory

Interactive Hands-Free Experiences Are The Next Marketing Frontier

Between a global pandemic that restricts the usual celebrations around the holidays and the social rumblings of a less wasteful lifestyle getting louder each year, gift-giving is slowly becoming a different experience. And, speaking of experience, the days of coveting the latest gadget, toy, or trinket are shifting to become much more focused on just that – experiencing things together.

This change in consumer behaviour, alongside the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies, particularly when looking at retail and hospitality sectors, is creating a new type of opportunity for modern businesses. Dubbed the “experience economy,” this opportunity provides a solution for retailers and community organizations that are looking to keep people engaged in a safe manner. It also entices consumers to come and experience the offer for themselves, helping create priceless memories with their loved ones as they interact with hands-free technology.

What is the Experience Economy?

Experiences are a different type of economic opportunity. Typically thought of by economists as belonging to services, they are actually a category of their own with regard to the value they provide. Experiences hinge on customer participation and connection, two critical aspects of how the customer will interact with and reflect on a particular encounter.

Similar to goods and services, experiences are being commoditized as the next competitive battleground for leading-edge companies. Whether it’s for a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) model, companies that stage interactive experiences for their audiences are able to capitalize on this next step in the progression of economic value.

By explicitly designing and promoting a unique experience, a company or brand is able to tie their goods or services to something much more visceral. As modern consumers seek more substance in their interactions with businesses, entering the experience economy by creating an interactive lighting or shopping display can help companies stand apart from their competition, particularly as the pandemic makes every consumer dollar spent more critical.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Impacted Retailers

The global health crisis has made us all rethink the types of interactions we have throughout the average day. Physical touch has been highlighted as problematic because of the pandemic since germs and viruses can be spread from infected surfaces. As a result, more hands-free interactive experiences are starting to enter the market in an effort to bring customers back in ways that are engaging and, most importantly, still safe.

Retailers have been especially affected by the economic downturn that COVID-19 has caused and finding new and innovative ways to instill excitement and trust in consumers has become a high priority for many business owners. Retail experiences that leverage the growing experience economy are able to better attract consumers, especially as many retailers rely on big sales throughout the holiday season. 

By turning a town centre, mall, or store into a stage, the ability to provide much more than a product or service becomes a large part of the appeal for consumers. The designed experience can incorporate aspects of local culture, history, and community to create a collective memory for participants. It can also inspire a deeper level of brand loyalty that works in tandem to deliver interactive product knowledge. As stores work to turn their physical spaces into complementary experiences, more thorough consumer education about their products and brand can be delivered and an accurate pulse on consumer attitudes and preferences can be established.

Retailtainment” is emerging as the latest development in how brands attract and sustain their consumer base. Creating an installation with artistic elements using light and sound can help businesses and organizations find new, better ways to connect with their audiences and keep them engaged with their brand, story, and products in an entertaining and memorable way.

Canadian Tire Sign Victoria BC

Enter the Experience Economy by Creating an Interactive Experience

Hands-free interactive lighting, sound, or other technology installations are the future of experiential marketing. These types of displays help ensure physical distancing and other public health and safety guidelines can be met, while still providing a satisfying and often remarkable level of engagement for consumers.

The holiday season provides an especially appropriate chance for businesses and organizations to create an experience for consumers and community members. An incredible interactive installation can be designed for a wide range of occasions and needs through combining art, sounds, lights, and music. As more people experience the installation, the visibility of both the experience and the business increases. Attracting consumers to a business in this way can help boost foot traffic, sales, and engagement for a company looking to stand out amongst the crowd, or a municipality or other community organization seeking a fun and innovative way to connect with the people they support.

Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Pride, Lunar New Year, or any other celebratory occasion or holiday, activating a space with hands-free interactive lighting and sound technology allows retailers, community organizations, and other businesses to connect with people in a thoughtful and effective way. Designing these types of engaging public art installations can be the perfect way to burst a brand into the experience economy and is a critical part of reengaging consumers in the post-pandemic world.

To find out more about designing an interactive light and sound installation for your store, mall, or community space, get in touch with Limbic Media and get started on a new experience.

Expressing Elements Of Culture Through Interactive Public Art Installations

An immersive and inspiring experience is exactly what is needed in this uncertain and stressful time as much of the world deals with the ongoing global pandemic. Finding safe activities to do, especially ones that leave a positive and remarkable memory, in an effort to stay connected with friends and family is especially important these days.

Combining a bonding moment through learning is an ideal way to spend an evening experiencing something new. Interactive public art installations, such as the one set up at Blue Mountain Village in Ontario during the month of October, provide the perfect opportunity to interact with culture, nature, and history, evoking reflection and contemplation using artistic expression and advanced technologies in both hardware and software.

Entrance Of Agora: Path Of Light

AGORA: Path Of Light At Blue Mountain Village

Blue Mountain Village’s lighting installation, “AGORA: Path of Light,” creates a cultural experience that is both unusual and magical. The word “agora” is a term from ancient Greece that refers to open public spaces that were often used for markets or community gatherings. Inspired by this concept and imbued with the cycles of life in nature, participants walk a circular path through the forest on Blue Mountain. On this route, they encounter a series of interactive lighting systems that feature the five elements of air, space, earth, water, and fire.

AGORA provides an exploration of five different elements, combined into an evening’s walk through the forest. Featuring an open-air gondola ride before a three-kilometer walking loop, visitors stop at North Wind to engage with air, The Dream to see space, Sabia to connect with earth, Aqua to feel water flow, and Hearth to warm by the fire. Created in partnership with an artistic director and spoken word artist, as well as Indigenous members of the local community, AGORA is a full sensory discovery of nature.

Embarking on this journey of learning, participants can communicate with and see AGORA come to life through the languages of light and sound. The outdoor setting contributes to the allure of the activity, allowing visitors to walk through the installation at their own pace, maintaining a safe distance, and following other health and safety guidelines.

This type of activity is ideal for families, couples, and anyone else that is in search of a special opportunity to learn through a multi-sensory interactive experience.

Aqua: Water
The Dream: Space

Creating The AGORA Interactive Lighting Design

The AGORA installation at Blue Mountain was put together by a group of talented people in multiple industries across the country. The engaging result is the work of multiple contributors, including:

• Limbic Media from Victoria BC, world leaders in interactive art and light technology,

• Edesia Moreno Barata – Concept Designer & Artistic Director, most notably recognized for her work with Cirque du Soleil,

• Marie Metaphor Specht – Poet and Spoken Word Artist,

• Jeff Monague – Ojibwe language professor and writer,

• Grey Cloud/James Carpenter – Anishinaabek healer and advisor for this project, and the talented group at Blue Mountain Village.

Together, this team has brought the spirit of the forest and natural outdoor surroundings to life through light, sound, and leveraging the relationship between how humans learn as they experience both simultaneously.

At night, lighting installations like AGORA have the ability to create an all-encompassing atmosphere using technology to tell a story and mesmerize visitors.

Hearth: Fire
Sabia: Earth

Made With Limbic Media’s Aurora Platform

Using Limbic Media’s Aurora platform technology, a lighting control system that adjusts both lighting and sound, the ambiance created can represent what defines an area or neighborhood and is able to highlight aspects of nature, history, or another storytelling narrative. This smart system can “listen” to sound the way a human can and is able to respond by adjusting light and color patterns.

Walk-throughs like AGORA provide an opportunity for municipalities and organizations to put together an unforgettable event that also maintains current health guidelines. Designing a walk-through installation allows for directive control of the route and can be planned in such a way as to incentivize visitors to spend more time in a particular area. During these moments of pause, visitors can learn more about the history, natural setting, or any other storytelling element through voiceovers, riddles, interactive screens, and other ways to engage using light and sound. Specific reactions like surprise or awe can be provoked, leaving visitors with unique memories that can be cherished long after the activity ends.

These types of engaging installations also have the ability to incentivize window shopping and can be used to attract customers to other public spaces, such as shopping malls. As the holidays get closer, alternatives for safe festive celebrations, like an outdoor holiday light show, could also help community organizations create experiences to bond and connect community members.

Contact Limbic Media to get started on a new interactive lighting project for your community, organization, or event, or subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected!

Learning Through Multi-Sensory Interactive Instruction: A blog article by Dr. Anita Nazareth

Learning Through Multi-Sensory Interactive Instruction

A blog article by Dr. Anita Nazareth

You don’t have to be a specialist educator to know that engaging children through more than one sensory avenue can markedly enhance their learning capacity.

Teacher-student and student-student interaction makes learning meaningful and interesting. What is more exciting is the added interaction with learning media incorporating sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

No one learns how to cook any better than just actually trying your hand in creating the dish. The best written recipes by the most renowned chefs and illustrated with delectable-looking food photographs cannot surpass the joy in actually smelling and tasting the dish. When an increased number of sensory receptors are engaged, the experience is markedly enhanced.

Instructional education personnel have time and again provided empirical evidence that as students progress through the elementary to secondary school stages, learning complex concepts become increasing challenging. This is especially evident for students with some form or other of learning disabilities, no matter how mildly they manifest themselves.

When teachers identify learning challenges, the traditional methods of instruction may just not be sufficient to do the job of facilitating learning.  Instructional strategies employed have to be much more creative.

Learning disabilities aside, all learners can benefit from interactive learning strategies employed in and outside the classroom environment.

Engaging students in multi-sensory learning environments have proven to be enabling to knowledge acquisition and retention.[i]

 

Introducing Children to Reading

Young children learn to associate sounds and later, words and sentences with what they experience in daily life. When a early-reader book has the capacity to respond with specific sounds when certain buttons on the page are pressed, it results in squeals of delight from the young learner. The nursery rhyme “The wheels on the Bus” is so much more fun and meaningful when the child touches the illustration of the bus and hears its horn and melody of the song. Comprehension and retention of words and lyrics are so much more enhanced when kids can also participate with physical actions that follow the lyrics in a video. Truly an interactive, auditory and tactile experience.[ii]

 

Learning Concepts in Science

Boredom can set in quickly when studying weight, volume and density through chalk and talk, for example. Bring in the paper boat, the plastic boat and the metal boat and place them in a trough of water. Better still, let students place them in the water and see how well they float. At an enhanced level, allow students to be creative with materials used and to construct varying shaped boats and experiment how well they float or not.

Try teaching Center of Gravity (CG) versus Center of Buoyancy (CB) in Physics.

Try explaining that CG is where all the mass of a ship is concentrated if it had to be reduced to one single point. Whereas CB is the center of the underwater volume of the vessel. Did you get that?

Now if students could play around with interactive media on a computer and design their virtual boat with varying widths and heights on the screen, I am sure their understanding of CG versus CB would be enhanced. Just studying with an animated graphic adds so much more to chalk and talk, what more if students could manipulate the variables associated with the ability of a ship to stay afloat through a virtual medium.

Source: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/exploringourfluidearth/media_colorbox/2621/media_original/en

With a view of collaborating with their fellow educators, instructional specialists can now find a multitude of interactive game-like learning tools off the internet created by instructors from all over the world who want to make the understanding of complex concepts easier for learners.

Take for example the study of the human body and the location for all the major organs. Learners can self-evaluate their knowledge on this topic by going to the website below. All they need to do is to sign up and engage in an interactive discovery of human organs and their names at varying levels of learning difficulty, from beginners to the well-heeled. Not only can they see the location of the organs in a human body, they can also hear how the names are pronounces[iii].

Learners can progress at their individual pace quite unique from the general pace required when teaching a classroom full of students with differentiated learning abilities.

Visual learners comprehend better when they can actually see the exact positions of the organs in a human or animal body. Auditory learners can hear the pronunciation of the general and scientific names of each organ and tactile learners may even be able to feel (with gloves on) various organs of an animal(s) brought into the school labs.

Location of Organs in a Human Body[iv]

3-D printed replica of a brain which feels similar to an actual animal brain[v]

Multi-sensory learning environments create parallel modes of receiving and retaining information and concepts and therefore faster cognitive development. Learners who hear information while simultaneously engaging in visual representative of that morsel of information have a better understanding of the concepts being explained. Utilizing multisensory instructional strategies enable information to be received by multiple senses, thus offering students of diverse learning types a more tailored means of understanding and retaining information.

 

[i]  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/238732527_Learning_with_multimedia_Engaging_students_in_constructivist_learning

 

[ii]  https://www.bookdepository.com/Wheels-on-Bus-go-Round-Round-Annie-Kubler/9780859537971

 

[iii] https://www.helpfulgames.com/subjects/biology/328-organs-anatomy.html

 

[iv] https://www.helpfulgames.com/subjects/biology/328-organs-anatomy.html

 

[v]  Source: http://membs.org/membs/news/details/mini-brains-on-a-petri-dish

The Sound Reactive Piano Chandelier: Multi-Sensory Experience

The Sound Reactive Piano Chandelier: Multi-Sensory Experience

Do you recall the sensations you experienced as you sat through a piano recital because you just had to; your child or sibling or good friend was playing and you were there to support the event.  What words would you use to describe that experience? Compare with the words you’d use to describe your attendance at a full-blown stage concert of your favourite band.. with the music blending in from a range of instruments enhanced by electronic synthesizers, stage lights, the floor throbbing with the sheer sound of bass and to top it all; the smell of pyrotechnics wafting up your nose… a complete package of sensations and truly memorable. That’s the effects of a multi-sensory experience where the five senses sound, smell, taste, touch and vision are engaged simultaneously to enhance enjoyment of the experience to the max. 

Crowd at The Victoria International Marina

Deliberately utilizing multi-sensory media creates an intangible sense of total involvement, heightened levels of fun, awareness and even relaxation when that is the desired effect. 

Christopher Donison playing piano under Aurora Chandelier

Avant-Garde artists and those in related creative industries have explored the concept of multi-sensory art when displaying their iconic works by incorporating dramatic lighting effects as well as music related to the theme of their paintings. While touch may sometimes be forbidden, other sensory paths may be exploited to advantage.  A 2-dimensional piece of art may stir the viewer’s mind but why not enable more than his vision to transport him through several dimensions of relatable senses.

Christopher Donison playing piano

Same concept applies to music. Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a piano performance where the entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band album by the Beatles was belted out on a grand piano by virtuoso Christopher Donison at a magnificent venue – The Victoria International Marina (https://vimarina.ca/)  The Aurora chandelier specifically designed by Limbic Media (https://limbicmedia.ca/ ) was crafted in the shape of a grand piano. Each note played was transmitted through the AI software technology and was visible as synchronized coloured lighting suspended above the piano. The entire sound and light sensory experience enthralled the audience and provided a veritable arena for toe-tapping involvement with the music, engaging the audience of youth and adults of all ages. The sense of taste was included as the audience could simultaneously imbibe some wine and munch on a culinary delight of savoury cured meats and cheese. So much more of a heightened experience compared to just listening to the music of a piano.  

Christopher Donison addressing crowd

Now that is a veritable, multi-sensory experience of sound, sight and taste!


 

From Glowflow to Burning Man: The Evolution of Interactive Media

Want to learn more about interactive media? Contact us about Aurora.

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On day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, onlookers were captivated by a computer-generated recreation of Tupac Shakur to perform with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The animation used projection mapping in combination with a theatrical technique called “Pepper’s Ghost” to create a 3D holographic effect. The project employed a team of 20 artists, lighting designers, and technicians to create an unexpected, immersive audience experience.

Festival season is upon us, and with it comes more opportunities to showcase and explore interactive media. From music, to performance art, to technology-based installations, the event lead-up is a full-time engagement for artists, technologists, and festival organizers seeking to stand out in what has become a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Technology has hugely influenced festivals’ ability to engage audiences with interactive media. Where has this attraction for interactive and technology-driven media come from, and how is it impacting other public spaces?

 

Computer mapped Tupac

Virtual Tupac at Coachella 2012

 

Interactive Media is Not A New Concept

Technological developments of the last half-century have breathed a new novelty into the concept of interactivity. Physically and emotionally participating in entertainment, which was the norm, became less common after the relatively recent advent of “passive” entertainment, like television and cinema.

 

“The reason we suddenly need such a word [as interactivity] is that during this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television.

Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theater, music sport — the performers and audience were together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for.

We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.”

—Douglas Adams, How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

 

Technology moved us away from interactive media, and ironically, technology is orienting us back to those original values when it comes to art and leisure—perhaps in an even bigger way than before TV. As much as technology has the power to isolate us, interactive media today is also more accessible, more invigorating on a multisensory level, and more likely to establish a genuine human connection than ever before.

 

Technology Has Revitalized Interactive Media

Using technology to create new forms of interactive media goes back to the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and 60s, Morton Leonard Heilig was one of the first to create VR in response to the passive experience of cinema.

 

“Without the active participation of a spectator, there can be no transfer of consciousness, no art.”

—Morton Leonard Heilig

 

Sensorama, which was patented in 1962, was a prototype for what he imagined would become “experience theatre.” It combined a stereoscopic 3D colour display, stereo sound, fans, olfactory dispensers, and tilted, vibrational seating to provide single viewers with a multisensory experience over the course of a short film. Heilig was unable to find funding to get Sensorama to industry players, and the project dissolved.

 

virtual reality sensorama Morton heeling

Morton Heilig’s Sensorama

 

7 years later, Myron Krueger developed one of the earliest forms of computer-based interactive art. Glowflow was first installed at the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Gallery. Pressure-sensitive pads were activated by viewers’ footsteps, triggering a real-time visual response from phosphorescent tubes and aural response from a Moog synthesizer. Glowflow was one of such interactive environments that lead to Krueger’s cornerstone project, Videoplace, in 1988. Videoplace is an artificial reality laboratory that creates reactionary light art out of viewers’ motion.

Much of Krueger’s work was motivated by a desire to redesign computers by addressing features that take away from an inherent human desire to connect and interact.

 

“There were things I resented about computers. I resented the fact that I had to sit down to use them. I resented the fact that I was using a hundred-year-old device to operate them—a keyboard—and the fact…that it was denying that I had a body of any kind, and that it was all perceptual, sort of, symbolic.”

—Myron Krueger

 

interactive media virtual reality Myron Krueger

Myron Krueger’s Videoplace

 

Krueger modeled Videoplace after the relationship that artists and musicians have with their tools, seeking to create a type of computer that people could experience rather than use for the sole purpose of efficiency. The first rendition of Videoplace superimposed Krueger’s hand-drawn data tablet doodles onto a screen in the Memorial Union Gallery a mile away. The doodles would appear to interact with viewers’ shadows, which were also projected onto the screen in real-time. Almost by accident, Krueger noticed that viewers were most engaged when their motion appeared to create the doodles.

 

“We discovered that there was this very natural desire to identify with the image on the screen. Their image was them, and they expected it to do things in the video world as much as it did in the physical world. It was as if evolution had prepared us for seeing ourselves on television screens combined with computer images.”

 

Suddenly, here was a real, tangible example of how technology had the potential to bring human connection full-circle—back to what interactive media had done for us prior to the age of passive media. From VR to public art, interactive media has come a long way since Videoplace.

 

Burning Man: A Lasting Example Interactive Media’s “Rebirth”

Unlike static art, interactive media is unique by involving the viewer in its creation, forming a platform for human connection and community. Passive media is presented with the intention of presenting audiences with a static piece to derive meaning from, rather than involving their participation in the media’s creation and forming a community from that involvement. A good example of the rebirth of interactive media, especially as it relates to the growth of art festivals, is Burning Man.

On June 22, 1986, Larry Harvey and Jerry James built an 8-foot human figure out of scrap wood in their Noe Valley basement. They hauled the wooden man down to Baker Beach and quickly drew an audience of close to 40 people as flames engulfed the figure. Before you could say gasoline, the spontaneous hootenanny was singing a fire-themed tune on the fly, and a woman was literally hand-in-hand with the pyro-masterpiece.

 

“That was the first spontaneous performance…that was the first geometric increase of Burning Man. What we had instantly created was a community. And…you know if we had done it as an art event, people would have come, and come to the gallery or something, and said ‘It’s very interesting, perhaps a little derivative, what are you going to do next?’”

—Lee Harvey

 

The festival has since grown into a 70,000-person gathering based on the values of immediacy, participation, communal effort, radical self-expression and self-reliance, egalitarianism, and creativity—so unsurprisingly, the festival has become a global platform for the convergence of art and innovative interactive media, informing values within the tech industry (and perhaps vice versa). What began as a novel concept associated with underground movements became its own city with the power to impact the culture and values behind one of North America’s largest industries.

 

 

Interactive Media’s Impact

Aside from influential Burners taking those core values back to the office after Labour Day each year, the impact of cultural phenomena like Burning Man has been a driving force behind the evolution of interactive media. Interactive media has re-infiltrated mainstream society, evolving in just a few decades from what was once associated with counterculture and festivals or niche, university-affiliated galleries like Videoplace.

Interactive technology and art are increasingly incorporated into civic space and public institutions like art galleries, science centres, shopping malls, and schools. Those behind designing and coordinating these spaces are realizing the advantage that interactivity has over passive forms of media in community building and increasing a return audience. Growing public values in interactive media are also expanding the tech industry, leveraging advances in interactive technologies like wearable tech, sound-to-light mapping, motion-tracking, VR and AI.

 

interactive public art

Montréal’s Impulsedezeen.com photo

 

Passive media is still the norm for a culture built on Netflix. But the values behind traditional forms of interactive media has been experiencing a rebirth over the last few decades, thanks to innovators like Myron Krueger and events like Burning Man—and the technology behind our ability to realize those values is growing every day.

An Interactive Lighting Case Study with Aurora

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

Real estate developers often invest in hoardings for big projects—on-site marketing signage that describes future developments. As opposed to online, radio, and print ads, hoardings are highly cost-effective marketing investments for developers, providing large-scale project awareness 24/7. Vancouver-based developer Belford Properties took their hoarding for Sun Towers Metrotown to the next level. Faced with the challenge of promoting Sun Towers while building long-term community relationships throughout the development, Belford partnered with a local organization and turned the hoarding into an interactive public art display.

The result was a 30×170-foot billboard combining community art with interactive technology. The billboard transformed public space across from BC’s largest shopping centre, Metropolis at Metrotown, into an interactive boulevard. The Metrotown project inspired Limbic Media’s Interactive Art Wall concept, an engaging art installation with multiple applications for civic space, retail and holiday displays, and any organization looking to increase ROI through public engagement and community placemaking. This week, we are taking you through Limbic Media’s process for this project, from the initial collaboration and concept to the final installation.

 

 

A Concept for Community Building

 

“If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

 

This is the proverb that initially inspired Belford to collaborate with Burnaby Neighbourhood House, a volunteer-driven social service agency. BNH supports programs and services that address local community needs. Understanding that youth have an enormous impact on community futures, the two organizations joined forces to support youth art education over the course of Belford’s 3-year development.

 

“Belford believes that youth can have a huge impact on community, helping to shape the future with new ideas through education and art. An investment in youth and education is much more rewarding than one can imagine, especially in the community that they grow up in. That type of investment is something we keenly sought out, hoping to work with an organization that places such an importance on education and art with children in the neighbourhood. We found that organization, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, and let the kids do their thing.”

—Belford Properties

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study Public Art

 

Their vision resulted in a public art concept surrounding the theme of rain + sunshine = growth to encourage yearly donations to BNH’s youth art programs. The 3-year project has three phases: the first, inspired by Greater Vancouver’s notoriously heavy rainfall, features umbrellas and rainbows. The second phase, scheduled for Spring 2019, features sunshine-themed drawings, and the third will display the fruits of that nourishment—growing flowers, bees, and nature. BNH and Belford commissioned art for the first phase to children currently in BNH arts programs. Their pieces were then scaled to fit the hoarding.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

Interactive public art not only fosters a sense of community and placemaking, but also increases brand awareness, foot traffic, public safety in surrounding areas, and overall ROI. Hangar 18, the project’s design and branding consultant, reached out to us to create an interactive lighting component for the billboard.

 

Designing and Integrating the Aurora Platform

Limbic Media’s role was to design the lighting component of the installation and integrate an Aurora system with a coin box to allow for donations. The vision was to literally “make it rain” when coins are inserted, offering passers-by a lightshow in exchange for their donations. Limbic Media used Hangar 18’s concept drawing as a template for the lighting design.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

Our team at Limbic Media was responsible for designing the layout of Minleon Pebble Light strands over the concept art, spec out project requirements, and do custom programming to evoke rainfall and rainbow effects. The project required 61 light strands of various lengths, totaling 2,075 pebble lights. Projects of this scale require multiple Network Distribution Boxes (NDBs) along with a network switch to effectively supply power and data from Aurora across all the lights. The next step was to parse the billboard’s light strands into 9 sections; one section of light strands for each NDB. Because all the technical components would be hidden behind the billboard, the project also required leader cables of various lengths to connect the beginning of each light strand with its respective NDB.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

The Interactive Art Wall was Limbic Media’s first time integrating Aurora with a coin box. Our lead design engineer created a new Aurora pattern to achieve a rainfall effect for the pebble lights. The coin box was then integrated with its own microcontroller, programmed to speak to Aurora: in resting mode, Aurora tells the light strands to evoke a subtle version of the rainfall pattern. When coins are donated to the box, it triggers an algorithm that intensifies the rainfall pattern’s brightness and speed, slowly diminishing until the the more subtle resting pattern is achieved.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

Limbic Media’s design process was a team effort, involving sales staff, engineers, and a technical lead to spec out and price the project—all while liaising with Hangar 18 and Belford to meet the project’s vision and timeline. Once the installation was set up at Limbic Media and passed for QA, we sent the equipment with our lead design engineer to oversee and support the onsite installation process alongside Belford, and make final tweaks to the project’s custom programming.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

Project Outcomes

The Interactive Art Wall was a huge success as an alternative to the average hoarding. Unlike a regular marketing billboard, the display’s interactivity increased a community-building ROI in addition to potential monetary gains. Lighting and interactivity leveraged Belford’s marketing for the Sun Towers development by encouraging public participation in the display and also increased awareness of BNH and their impact on community initiatives. By providing an opportunity for hashtags and social media engagement, the interactive display created an additional marketing tool for both Belford and BNH. The interactive hoarding captured Belford’s vision as a developer that is mindful of its surrounding community and involved in its long-term, people-based goals.

 

“With the addition of these beautifully installed LED lights around the drawings on the wall, we are able to raise public awareness not only in the daytime but also attract lots of attention at night. Our Art Wall has soon become a popular sight visiting point in the area which gives us chances to interact with the public. The lights are one of the key elements in this charity fundraising event. On behalf of Belford Properties, we are very pleased with how the addition of the lighting has attracted a tremendous amount of attention to our Charity Art Wall project.”

—Chris Ba, Belford Properties

 

Providing a reward for donations to the initiative in the form of a light show also piqued public interest from passers-by in a way that stand-alone donations boxes can’t. The hoarding brightened the thoroughfare at Beresford Street, potentially increasing return foot traffic to the area. Overall, interactivity at the Metrotown installation played a crucial role in placemaking and fostering community development out of what would otherwise remain a typical urban development on an ordinary roadway. If you find yourself near Metrotown Station over the next few years, check out the installation, make a donation, and be sure to share your interaction on social media with #celebratebby.

 

Interactive Lighting Case Study

 

The Interactive Art Wall concept has potential across multiple applications. Light fixture styles and custom patterns can be adapted for unique themes and mounted against a variety of backdrops and settings. If you are interested in combining interactivity with a similar concept or initiative, contact us today to brainstorm ideas.

 

Photos by Mandy Jin at WeTopia.

CASC 2018 Conference: LHULH’UTS’UT’EN

Representatives from Canadian science centres and museums came together last week to embody LHULH’UTS’UT’EN—working together—at this year’s Canadian Association of Science Centres‘ 2018 conference. CASC attendees came to Prince George this year to seek inspiration, network, and learn about the challenges facing science centres and museums across the country.

Limbic Media’s Marketing Associate, Deanna Foster, and Lead Design Engineer, Gabrielle Odowichuk, attended the event with an Aurora Jam Tent (check out our Aurora Jam Tent video from Tectoria 2018). Here are a few highlights from their time up north.

 

CASC 2018 Conference

 

Welcome Reception

This year’s CASC attendees had a chance to be kids again in the Two Rivers Art Gallery’s Maker Space. Activities ranged from felting, to learning code, to traditional Lheidli T’enneh wood carving. Participants also enjoyed traditional drumming by the talented Khast’an drummers. Check them out for a truly mesmerizing show!

 

CASC 2018 Conference

 

The Way-Late Play Date

Clad in their finest plaid, CASC-goers were invited to eat, drink and wield some good ‘ol saws and axes. Logger sports and a relay race kicked off the night, followed by dancing and Northern BC’s finest brews. The Exploration Place provided an interactive setting to network and learn about industry trends and challenges. Highlight of the evening? Chocolate-covered bacon.

 

CASC 2018 Conference

 

The Exhibitors

Limbic Media’s Jam Tent, an Aurora-lit enclosure filled with musical instruments, was among a variety of science and museum exhibitors. Little Ray’s Nature Centres (aka. Average-sized Ray’s Nature Centres) provides permanent and traveling hands-on, zoological education exhibits. Sadly, Shane from Little Ray’s was unable to bring a sloth to CASC—but here’s hoping for next year.

Big shoutout to Pathfinders Designs, who was a huge help in Limbic Media’s Jam Tent setup. Pathfinders, based on Vancouver Island, designs and creates wooden science kits.

 

CASC 2018 Conference

 

CASC 2018 was an exciting reminder of the open-mindedness and innovative thinking of Canada’s industry leaders in science centres and museums. Each attendee left with new connections and inspiring ideas for their home audiences. We had a lot of fun seeing everyone have jam time in our Aurora Jam Tent, and hope to see sound-to-light interactivity infiltrating more science centres and museums across the country in the next year!

 

CASC 2018 Aurora sound-to-light engine reacting to music

 

Contact us today to plan a Jam Tent for your next event!

How to Maximize your Investment in Holiday Lighting

Looking for more holiday lighting content? Subscribe to Limbic Media’s monthly newsletter!

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We talked to Darren Vader, a holiday lighting installation expert, in our last blog to discover the biggest trends and challenges facing the industry today. Darren’s business focuses mainly on commercial lighting installations, retail/wholesale, and cutting-edge technology in the lighting industry.

This week we want to focus more on small-scale residential or small business lighting installations. Residential lighting made $27-billion in revenues for the 2017 season across the United States, and is growing every year. We received feedback from WeHangChristmasLights.com and JVS Christmas Lighting to gain some insight for this article on the residential installation arena.

There is a huge demand for holiday lighting installation services, and the industry is growing beyond just Christmas-themed displays. Quality custom installations from reputable installers are not cheap—but planning the right design offers potential for installations with year-round appeal. Versatile, high-quality installations enhance your home’s aesthetic and can have a significant ROI for small businesses looking to stand out. If you budget for professional holiday lighting installations each year, here’s how to maximize your investment.

 

Holiday lighting

Government Street, Victoria, BC—Derek Resch Photo


Consider lighting installations that aren’t Christmas-specific.

Victoria, BC’s main drag along Government Street is lined with light-adorned trees. Season after season, the lights remain, but the colours change depending on the season; soft white for strolls on warm Summer nights, orange for Halloween, and alternating red and green for the holidays. The lights add an aesthetic appeal to the city’s downtown core and drive foot traffic even after the shops are closed.

Smaller-scale lighting installation customers tend to invest in Christmas-themed projects with an installation life of 2-3 months at most. New trends and technologies in the lighting industry are allowing for more adaptable installations that make better use of your investment.

According to Josh Trees of WeHangChristmasLights.com, Halloween, event, wedding, and other non-Christmas events are some of the largest growing aspects of smaller-scale installation projects. This shows a willingness for customers to think past lighting displays as a traditionally Christmas-focused endeavour and become more integrated into other events or residential décor. The huge commercial market for lighting in non-Christmas events and festivals is trickling down to the smaller-scale installation market. Technologies like RGB and light interactivity is making it possible for these projects to easily evoke different moods depending on the time of year and audience without having to redesign or reinstall the display.

RGB Lighting is one of the fastest-growing segments of the holiday lighting installation industry. RGB lights combine red, green and blue light to create a full range of colour options from a controller, making installations much more versatile. The same RGB light installation you invested in to set mood-lighting for your patio and landscaping in the summer can then be easily controlled to create Christmas or Halloween-themed lighting, for example. This allows you to keep your installation up year-round and reinvent the lighting’s appeal, whether it’s for the patio of a cafe or a private home audience.

 

Hire an installation company and make sure they’re certified.

Thousands of people each year receive treatment for holiday-related decoration injuries. Holiday lighting installations can result in property damage or even injury when done DIY-style or conducted by unqualified installers that are more focused on providing a cheaper service than a quality service. Small-scale residential installers are constantly dealing with installations that need to be set up quickly in harsh weather conditions in the safest way possible and returning client properties to their initial state.

According to Josh Trees, the biggest challenge facing the industry today is unqualified installers that are dropping their prices at the expense of installation quality and safety. By investing in a highly qualified, certified installer, you not only get a quality design and hassle-free service, but also benefit the industry as a whole.

If you are investing money into a lighting installation, hire a company that is certified by CLIPA (Christmas Light Installation Pros Association). CLIPA installers have been trained and tested on installation techniques and are certified to ensure that:

  • Lights are removed on time
  • Maintenance issues are troubleshooted and resolved quickly
  • Installations are configured and power-routed properly
  • Safety is a top priority and all necessary tools and equipment are provided
  • Quality installations are designed effectively with ideas and consulting provided
  • There is no property damage left after the installation
  • Their company is properly insured for lighting installations
  • Installation designs are of high-quality for all of the following::
    • Commercial and residential rooflines
    • Trees, bushes, landscapes
    • Sidewalk and driveway perimeters
    • Windows, doors, archways and dormers
    • Pillars, fences and gates
    • Wreaths, sprays and garlands

 

Wehangchristmaslights.com Photo

 

Budget and plan for your installation far in advance.

Most smaller-scale lighting installers deal with short lead-times before the winter holiday season, which means installations can be rushed with shorter daylight times, bad weather and tight deadlines. Adaptable RGB installations that look as good for Summer events as they do for Christmas beat rush times and spread your investment out over a longer period.

Planning versatile installs in advance also provides installers with revenue in the off-season, and gives them time to invest in a quality custom design. Installers are well aware of industry trends and new lighting technology, especially early in the season, so if your goal is to be the Joneses, your property will be trend-setting in your area.

 

Pay attention to what commercial lighting installers and companies are doing.

If you want to stay ahead of the game with your holiday lighting installations, look to the bigger commercial installers—the companies tackling festivals and public spaces—for industry trends. The commercial lighting industry almost always informs trends happening in residential and small-scale holiday lighting businesses. For 2018, RGB LEDs, interactivity, synchronized sound-to-light, and multisensory installations are trending.

Observing lighting installation trends in commercial spaces is the best way to set trends and be cutting-edge for residential and small-scale installations. If you’re a small business, staying on top of these trends is a good way to maximize your investment in lighting installations, set your business apart from the others, drive traffic to your business and increase your ROI.

 

 

Holidays are increasingly commercialized each year, which means the demand for holiday lighting is growing and installation planning and execution is happening earlier each season. The industry is seeing growth in RGB lighting, and most installers now also design non-winter holidays and event lighting. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your home’s architecture or landscaping, but also stand out in your neighbourhood for seasonal holidays and events, invest in a professionally-installed, controllable RGB display. Lighting technologies and certified installers are making it easier to maximize your investment and still look great for any season.

 

Interview: Challenges and Trends Facing the Holiday Lighting Installation Industry

Planning holiday lighting installations might be off the average homeowner’s radar for several more months—but for those in the commercial holiday lighting industry, projects are already in the planning phase. We talked to Darren Vader of Lumyn Immersive Media about the challenges and trends facing the holiday lighting and installation industry. Darren is the founder of The Christmas Light Emporium and Extreme Lightscapes, and has years of experience in the holiday installation industry.

 

What do your companies do, and is it possible to survive year-round in the holiday lighting industry?

This depends on what aspect of the season lighting industry a company is involved in. I see the market as having basically three top level segments: residential services, commercial services and retail/wholesale/commercial product sales.

My companies are involved in technology design and consulting for commercial projects and retail/wholesale product sales. I focus heavily on creating the highest perceived value possible. This allows me to design higher-end displays, pieces and light shows using the highest quality components available, while often implementing technology that is light years ahead of others in the market. All of these things mean I have a longer sales cycle—way longer than those who focus on residential and a good bit longer that those who only focus on commercial installation. So for me, it is absolutely a year-round focus. I spend the first half of the year selling new projects and the second half of the year doing onsite consulting/installation and managing our retail operation.

 

I would say that most companies involved in the seasonal lighting industry are more focused on what I call “right-now revenue’” rather than on providing long-term value for their customers.

 

For residential services, we are chiefly talking about Christmas light installers. It is not common to see a full time, year-round business with no other revenue stream. The most successful residential installers will have a few key staff that are full time/year-round and a vastly higher number of staff that are seasonal only. They also tend to pad revenue with other services such as landscaping or landscape lighting. I always tell my friends in the residential space who are successful that it’s not their skill at light installation that makes them good at what they do—it’s the fact that they are masters of logistics.

I would say that most companies involved in the seasonal lighting industry are more focused on what I call “right-now revenue’” rather than on providing long-term value for their customers. This is especially true in the residential holiday lighting installation market where a huge majority of service providers are small teams just trying to monetize on a season-by-season basis, and do not run full-time seasonal lighting operations. There are a lot of larger, successful companies in this space, but there are far more who are 1—4 person, seasonal-only operations just looking for “right-now revenue.”

 

Commercial Holiday LED Lighting Installation

Extreme Lightscapes: New Orleans Christmas in the District

 

Commercial service providers typically are able to command a higher price point for their services because it requires an advanced set of skills and new logistical challenges. The venues are almost always much larger. The installation time, equipment and logistics of working in public spaces are far more complex than in the residential space. I would say that a majority of companies specializing in large commercial installations are likely to be full-time, year-round operations even if with a limited staff. This is the segment within which technology specialists such as myself and my companies exist. Technology services and consulting for complex lighting installations is an underserved niche market that requires a very unique combination of right-brain/left-brain thinking.

Retail/Wholesale/Commercial Product Sales: this is where a good bit of the real magic happens. Manufacturers and retail/wholesale entities who have the foresight to create new and exciting products for use by commercial and residential installers are the ones who drive innovation in the seasonal lighting industry. Often they are being pushed by folks like myself and others in the residential and commercial services space who are constantly demanding new and innovative products. All of the larger commercial product companies are certainly year-round operations. There are a few retailers of seasonal lighting who are able to operate full-time as well. But most of them are supplementing with some level of marketing toward patio/landscape lighting, event lighting or even municipal and general lighting products.

Regardless of which segment of the seasonal lighting industry a company participates, I believe that whether or not a company can make a full time/year-round business out of it is chiefly based on their ability to create designs, services and products that are impressive enough to command a high-perceived value. You have to build a reputation as being one of the best in the industry nationally or even internationally in order to command top dollar and top margins, and afford to work on Christmas all year long!

 

Commercial holiday lighting installation

Photo: Extreme Lightscapes

 

How do seasonal holiday installers survive in the off-season?

Residential installers who do not run a company full-time are very often firemen, policemen, landscapers or otherwise employed in an opposing seasonal field. Residential installation companies who are full time will almost always also offer landscape or landscape lighting services to keep some cash flow rolling during other parts of the year.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing holiday installers today?

As a business owner, I think the biggest challenges are:

  • Increasing product costs from overseas manufacturers
  • Difficulty in keeping up with changes in technology and its knowledge curve
  • Maintaining the ability to create designs, services and products that are impressive enough to command a high-perceived value

 

How do you see those challenges being addressed?

Manufacturing of holiday lighting on the high end has somewhat shifted to Europe, but that makes the cost very high. I think that in the future we will see some of the larger European companies open manufacturing facilities in the U.S.. I already see some U.S. companies in the commercial product space who are taking European style and having similar designs produced in Asia at a much lower price point. When it comes to the basic components—lighting, technology and supplies – if costs of production continue to increase in Asia, I see the possibility of U.S. distributors moving production to places like Mexico and the Philippines or other areas where cost can be brought back down a bit.

Keeping up with technology will always be a challenge. It is a generational thing. Just like my generation was the first Internet generation, we are now getting “schooled” by our kids, who are the first social media generation. In a similar fashion, I was part of the first generation of seasonal lighting technologists. I am very often getting “schooled” by the next/younger generation of technologists who, for example, are fluent with and have pushed the limits of what can be achieved with RGB lighting and control systems. At some point I feel like we have to move beyond being hands on with it ourselves and focus more on the theoretical—coming up with visions, inventions and ideas that are superior to what exist right now—and then hire the next/younger generation to build out those visions! Much like the Apple, Steve Jobs approach to technology.

 

Interactivity and immersive environments and displays. This is the same mantra being chanted in every corner of all segments of the event production space.

 

Maintaining the ability to bring to market designs and technologies that have a high-perceived value, I think, is just a matter of never getting bored. You have to absolutely love seasonal lighting. When you stop loving it more than everyone else, you will stop caring about creating things with a high-perceived value. If you don’t value your ideas, neither will anyone else.

 

Multi-sensory LED light tunnel

Extreme Lightscapes Tunnel

 

What current trends are you seeing in installation projects?

Interactivity and immersive environments and displays. This is the same mantra being chanted in every corner of all segments of the event production space. The human condition is so complex, and getting more so year by year, that people are becoming desensitized to what we have known as common visual and audio stimulants. The world is so audibly and visually “noisy” that we have to cut through all the mess by offering interactive displays, immersive environments and advanced sensory experiences in order to capture people’s attention, bring their minds into a peaceful zone (or a party zone, or a reflective zone, or whatever happens to be appropriate for the environment) and give them something important that will tell a story on behalf of the producer.

 

If it wasn’t for my focus on technology, I’d just be another miscellaneous commercial lighting installer.

 

When it comes to how: RGB RGB RGB RGB. European design. Video mapping—both using traditional projectors and more recently by using RGB pixel grids and feeding them video content. Sound, motion reactivity, physical interaction, etc.

 

What are the differences in the demands you get from commercial vs. residential clients?

I would say that commercial installers are being hit with all of the tending demand we just mentioned. They are being asked to execute these interactive and immersive visions within often very tight budgets. Residential installers I think have a completely different challenge. Residential buyers are notoriously “best price” shoppers without much regard to who the best person is for the job.

 

Up to how much do clients pay (residential vs. commercial) for their installations?

This is all over the map. I focus on commercial projects. My average project is probably around $100,000 with a huge range of $50,000-$1million, with a mean budget probably around $50,000-$75,000.

For residential installers, the range is also very wide. Most of the non-full-time, one-man operations are also wildly undercutting the full-time installers and and probably average around $200-$300 and focus on 1-story or smaller 2-story neighborhoods. At the same time, I know several full-time residential installation companies who have a $1,000 minimum per project and they are extremely successful. Their clients are typically wealthy neighborhoods and small commercial venues (small shopping centers, stand alone restaurants, etc).

 

Do you ever have clients request holiday installs that are also adaptable for year-round use?

Rarely. This is something that I am trying to educate my customers on. A seasonal display that is truly designed to bring out the feeling of the holidays is never going to be something you want left up all year long in its entirety. But we almost always are including components within those displays that most certainly could and should be considered for permanent, all-year use. This is especially true of some of the interactive displays and many components that use RGB lighting systems or projection. These systems are relatively easy to create new content for changing times of the year.

 

LED Christmas tree light show

Extreme Lightscapes Installation at Dallas Zoo

 

What role does new technology play in your business?

Massive. It’s all I do. This is what makes my company unique. There are not many of us in the seasonal lighting business who only focus on new technology. This doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything else, but new technology is always what we lead with and it is what my companies are known for. There are only a small handful of others who approach seasonal lighting this way who are full-time operators. If it wasn’t for my focus on technology, I’d just be another miscellaneous commercial lighting installer.

 

Is interactivity a growing component of the holiday lighting install industry?

Absolutely. And not just with technology. One of the most popular types of display pieces I have included in my designs recently has been 3-dimensional pieces that people can walk through or touch. This year I am pushing these limits with the vision to bring to market solutions that are both 3-dimensional walk-through piece and immersive, multi-sensory experiences. I fully believe that this is where the market is heading. And there are a million different ways to bring this vision to fruition. I believe that the immersive movement will last for a while into the future.

 

What are some examples of interactive installations you’ve done?

Walk-through ornaments, stars, tunnels, light show tunnels, sound-to-light, Santa set built inside a light-show tree, next step—multi-sensory displays!

 

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8 Interactive Technologies of Future Shopping Malls

When Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store opened in SoHo in 2015, the retailer was known primarily for selling bags. Since introducing interactive technology for their customers on the floor, clothing sales tripled their expectations within a year.

Interactive technology in retail has been the driving theme behind our previous two blogs on shopping malls. We detailed how the offline retail industry has changed over the last decade and how it can adapt, in or out of lucrative holiday seasons. In addition to the impact of e-commerce and economic downturns, people’s spending habits have been influenced by an increasing desire for multisensory experiences, often in offline spaces.

Investing in interactive public art has a huge ROI both fiscally and culturally for their surrounding communities and businesses. Establishing a returning audience through these experiences is the answer to shopping malls’ survival. What exactly do these experiences look like in today’s malls? In the third and final article in our shopping mall series, we’re going to look at six different technologies you can find in the world’s most cutting-edge and successful shopping malls.

 

1. Interactive Mirrors

Oh, the drudgery of standing in line for a changing room only to be harassed by a sales associate as you struggle with a top—brands are now using interactivity to make changing room experiences fun and unique. Ralph Lauren’s flagship store in Manhattan implemented touch-screen mirrors that display your items and let you adjust the lighting. You can also request different sizes via touch-screen from your sales associate, who lets you know in real-time when they’re en route.

 

Photo: Marina Nazario/ Business Insider

 

Touch-screen mirrors are a good example of how retail spaces are mimicking the interactive aspects of e-commerce. Rebecca Minkoff’s store houses interactive mirrors with eBay’s inventory management software. The mirrors act like virtual personal style assistants, making suggestions and telling customers exactly what’s in stock. The interactivity also helps the company track spending habits while increasing sales.

 

2. Virtual Try-on

Less widespread than interactive mirrors is the virtual try-on mirror released by Samsung in 2015. The idea is to set up mirrors in non-retail spaces that provide customers with a hassle-free, interactive way to engage with products without stepping foot inside a store.

 

Photo: Business Wire

 

A  similar product was more recently patented by Amazon and acts like a full-body Snapchat filter that integrates virtual try-on with backdrops in various locations. The company claims to use the world’s most advanced technology in light and projection to bring online shopping models to an offline, participatory audience.

 

3. Interactive Window Displays

Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan installed an interactive window display for Father’s Day in 2015. The goal of the project was to stop foot traffic by offering a captivating participatory experience. It also provided an opportunity to make sales out of convenience; if customers liked the products they experienced, they could make purchases without taking extra time to go inside.

 

Photo: brandchannel

 

Similarly, French shoe retailer Repetto drew in foot traffic by using motion-tracking technology in an interactive window display. Audience motion created a holographic catalogue that reacted in real-time with customers. 

 

4. Immersive Screens

Microsoft deploys immersive screens in their stores that wrap around the entire retail space. A server synchronizes the images as they flow from screen to screen so the experience isn’t localized to one portion of the floor. The immersive display benefits stores in their versatility. They offer product information, educate viewers on tech topics, provide audio-visual entertainment, invite participation through activities like gaming, and update customers on localized events and news.

 

Photo: Matthew Carasella/Bloomingdale’s

 

5. Combining High-Tech Architecture and Light

Since the beginning, shopping malls have focused on interior space and retail, often neglecting their exterior appeal. Incorporating interactive public art, technology, light, and design into mall exteriors is another effective way of placemaking and drawing in customers.

 

Photo: Patrick Bingham-Hall

 

The Bugis+ shopping mall in Singapore invested as much into its facade as its interior, and the result is a piece of architecture that is hard to pass by. The building features a curved, crystal-mesh facade. Lighting is integrated into the mesh and controlled with custom software to make it sparkle during the day and glow after sundown. It was designed to involve its surrounding community in an interactive experience; artists and the public can project messages and art into the crystalline architecture on a large-scale. This not only drives mall traffic but establishes the mall as a cultural and artistic place-maker in the region.

 

6. Sound and Light Shows and Simulated Experiences

The Mall of America offers a free 9-minute interactive light show every night that focuses on engaging and entertaining younger audiences. The show features lighting that is programmed to a variety of music styles. It can be viewed from various levels of the Mall’s concourse, but those dancing to the music on the ground floor experience spotlights and other lighting effects interacting with their movement in real-time. According to this mom, the multisensory show is effective in driving return traffic, especially for families seeking a unique, emotive experience.

 

 

Multisensory experiences are heightened even more intensely at MOA’s FlyOver America. At a small price, you can virtually tour the country’s most iconic landscapes and landmarks in an experience not unlike Brave New World’s feelies, with weather and scents incorporated with sound and visuals.

 

7. Experiential-only Retailers

The Grand Front, a six-story shopping mall in Osaka, Japan, sets itself apart from most other shopping malls on the planet through interactive technology. You won’t find your typical mall anchor stores at Grand Front—to get a lease there, retail spaces must offer technologically innovative, immersive experiences for consumers. Big brands exhibit concept stores that tackle innovative themes rather than their run-of-the-mill products.

 

Photos: Active Lab

 

The mall also houses the Innovation Lab, which showcases startup businesses that use mall-goers as guinea pigs to beta-test products like the aforementioned interactive mirrors. Grand Front Osaka also has a Knowledge Capital devoted to edutainment, bridging the gap between retail and multisensory experience. The mall is part of a larger goal not only to resurrect shopping mall longevity but to stimulate a declining tech sector among the city’s large aging population.

 

8. Robots

A 4-foot humanoid robot has started spicing up retail spaces around the world. “Pepper” is touted as the world’s first robot that understands and recognizes facial expressions, voice, body language and emotion, and is capable of carrying out a basic conversation. The robot is useful for a variety of settings including the home, but introducing the robot to retail space helps welcome and direct foot traffic in conjunction with human staff.

The robot has the added non-human benefits of interactively entertaining kids while their parents are browsing, and following up with customers after retail exchanges. The impact of Pepper on retail space is so promising that the first 1000 Peppers sold within their first minute on the market for about $1600 USD a piece.

Perhaps the most intriguing interactive component to Pepper in a retail space is its ability to style. The robot is programmed to understand how inventories of clothing items fit different body types and provide detailed personal style advice to individual customers. Too shy to get an opinion from a stranger? Just ask Pepper.

 

 

If you could describe the future of shopping malls in three words, they would be interactive public spaces. The world’s most thriving shopping centres stay ahead by offering technology and experiences that e-commerce can’t.

It’s not realistic for all shopping malls to adopt these expensive interactive technologies like robots and touch-screen mirrors—but making relatively small installation investments provides opportunities to engage with customers in new ways and create offline social platforms. These will have a huge impact on the success of shopping malls, not only economically, but culturally in their communities.

Any way you slice it, years of overbuilding means that not every mall will survive the coming generations. Those that do will undoubtedly make use of technology, art, and interactivity in their public spaces.

 

To learn more about a Limbic Media product that’s making public spaces interactive, check out Aurora.

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