Limbic Media

Limbic Media

Category: Technology

How Interactive Placemaking Initiatives Can Boost Return On Investment (ROI)

AGORA | Path Of Light Singing Tree

Placemaking is an approach to economic development in public spaces that incorporates elements of urban design, planning, and management. The strategy combines cultural, physical, and social identities of a place with a community’s public amenities or a building’s shared areas to create spaces that inspire, educate, and contribute to overall well-being.

The idea behind successful placemaking is to create places that are “truly mixed-use space, multi-disciplinary, authentic and aesthetically beautiful,” according to an industry expert that took part in Urban Living Festival 2020’s webinar series. The approach is, in part, being driven by the millennial demographic as they become the dominant buying group and are more focused on pursuing a lifestyle full of experiences. 

Who is Placemaking For?

Aurora Tunnel At The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

A wide variety of organizations are able to make use of placemaking as a development strategy. Cities, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have the ability to incorporate placemaking into their community planning at a large scale to boost traffic in certain areas, generate revenue, or spread awareness about a local feature or initiative. Smaller organizations like property developers, retailers, and others can also implement placemaking in their space to create better environments or increase revenue. 

No matter the size of an organization, placemaking is a great way to increase returns on investment while also creating wonderful spaces for local communities. The trick is in taking the time to incorporate elements of the local aesthetic, history, and/or culture and investing in thoughtful design that showcases these unique features. With this approach, people are naturally drawn to certain areas within a city where they can have meaningful experiences and create remarkable memories. This also results in cities that are able to create long-lasting “brands” around neighborhoods or buildings, further adding to their appeal to residents and tourists alike.

The Experience Economy and Art in Placemaking

Heineken Tower at Festival

Aurora-Powered LED Towers For Heineken

Cities, BIAs, BIDs, downtown associations, and property developers that use placemaking as a pillar of community development are able to enhance the communities they build. By entering the experience economy through interactive public art installations, these organizations don’t only provide amazing experiences for community members, they also provide an economic opportunity.

Art is a great way to inspire people and facilitate engaging interactions, but establishing the value of just how much it contributes when it comes to placemaking has been difficult. However, Ryerson University and MASSIVart, a global art consultancy and production agency, are looking to find out what that return on investment (ROI) truly looks like in a new study.

Our years in business have proven to us, and our clients, that art placemaking is beneficial to increase traffic, transform spaces and enhance events by creating memorable experiences. Cultural programming and the inclusion of art in architecture, real estate, and design, and many other alternative areas can transform the sense of community & belonging and contribute to the collective well-being. Art conveys the character of a place, its value, its culture, its identity and narrative.” -MASSIVart (New University Study Will Finally Show The ROI Of Art)

Aesthetic Relaxing Architecture

Blanco Trade Show Booth At IDS 2020

Art installations, especially interactive ones, can help promote awareness and community engagement. They are also highly shareable across social media platforms, increasing a campaign’s exposure. Increased foot traffic often boosts sales, as does creating an experience that encourages passersby to spend more time exploring an area, helping support local businesses nearby. Safety concerns can also be addressed through placemaking, drawing people to particular parts of a city or downtown core.

Increasing ROI Through Interactive Experiences

Aurora | The Giving Tree

Through thoughtful, creative, and interesting design, interactive experiences are able to produce great benefits for communities, businesses, and, ultimately, people. These efforts contribute to a greater ROI for municipalities or business associations, as well as for property developers and other private investors or organizations.

Things like a giving tree set up around the holidays can generate revenue for local charities. Walkthrough experiences like AGORA: Path of Light are also able to generate revenue for a community from ticket sales, while also creating interactive cultural connections.

I can say reviews have been very positive. It was exciting to see the joy across a wide spectrum of demographics, particularly teens and 20-somethings; they’re often harder to impress. Agora is the perfect Covid experience and likely why it was so popular at a time when there was little competition. There was also a ton of advertising and promotion behind the event. Ticket sales were more than double our expectations and contributed positively to ancillary sales at commercial businesses in the Village.” – Patti Kendall, Director of Marketing & Events, Blue Mountain Village Association

How Placemaking Benefits Communities While Boosting ROI

Art Wall made for Belford Properties

Belford Properties Interactive Hoarding

The versatility of interactive art installations can greatly contribute to placemaking in a community or space. Whether it’s an indoor lighting display, an outdoor sound and light walkthrough experience or something in between, the economic benefit of designing and installing interactive experiences is obvious. Besides contributing to the local economy, especially as part of pandemic recovery initiatives, these engaging experiences also contribute to the overall health, happiness, and well-being of a community. 

Placemaking approaches can help boost ROI for cities, business associations, property developers, retailers, and community organizations. It can also ensure that the people who live and work in a community have even more reasons to engage, connect, support, and appreciate the public and private spaces they exist in.

Excited about the potential for placemaking initiatives like these to increase your ROI? Get in touch with us to start planning an engaging interactive experience for your community.

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!

Winners! Gold at IDS 2020 – Best Booth

Interior Design Show 2020: Best Booth Gold Award 

We recently had the oppurtunity to partner with Arc & Co to design and build an interactive booth experience for Blanco at the International Design Show 2020 in Toronto, Canada.

The interactive multimedia booth was awarded ‘Best Booth’ at IDS 2020.

Watch the video below to see how the public was invited to participate in a novel multimedia approach to exploring Blanco’s products.

 

The Tech

Limbic Media’s Aurora platform was used to coordinate a high-tech multimedia experience that gave Blanco an edge at IDS 2020.

A voice recognition system programmed to respond to a specific grammer of spoken inputs was used to trigger animations on the video screens and output elegant architectural LED design. Aurora’s LED output was used to light up a large diffuse cube engineered and built by Arc & Co. Users were given a unique interface through which to ‘wish’  for a variety of product options.

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!


 

Interview Of CEO Justin Love At TransWorld

The CEO of Limbic Media, Justin Love, was just interviewed at TransWorld. Aaron (the interviewer) voted Aurora coolest thing he saw there. Check out the interview in the video below!

TransWorld’s Halloween & Attraction show is the ONLY industry trade show of its kind in the world. There is no other show that has as many exhibitors and industry related products. For three decades TransWorld’s annual Halloween & Attractions show has created the marketplace for the Haunted House industry. Each year the Industry gathers to network, get new ideas and purchase products.

Winners 2019 VIATEC – Product Of The Year

Aurora Won Product Of The Year At The 2019 VIATEC Awards 

On June 14, 2019, the tech community gathered to celebrate the achievements of technology companies and individuals responsible for making Greater Victoria the fastest-growing technology region in British Columbia. The theme was “There’s no place like home.”

The CEO (Justin Love) and CTO (Manjinder Benning) of Limbic Media gave a concise speech, touching on climate change with a focus around working together with local tech companies to implement positive change. We aim to do our part to make a difference by lowering our carbon footprint. “There’s no place like home.”

We would like to give a huge thanks to all our supporters, followers, investors, and employees that helped make this achievement possible. “As the particles of dust gather a mountain will be formed.”

Interactive Lighting Control is Opening New Doors for LED Applications

This article was written by Limbic Media’s CTO Manjinder Benning and republished with permission from LED Professional Review, an Austrian-based publication for innovators in LED technology.

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Advancements in lighting control technology are allowing for sophisticated interactivity in LED mapping. These new technologies are bridging the gap between lighting control and AI, with the ability to analyze and map data input (such as audio) in real-time. Installations driven by interactive LED control technologies have their place in a variety of application spaces. Manjinder Benning, Founder and CTO of Limbic Media, explains how this new technology works, what its applications are, and what the future of interactive lighting control looks like – not only for end-users, but also for lighting designers and technicians.

Interactivity is a growing feature of consumable technology. Public spaces – from shopping malls to schools, hospitals, and entertainment venues – are increasingly designed with human-centric, interactive approaches. Designers are recognizing the value of interactive technology in driving traffic, educating, healing, and entertaining over platforms that engage and connect people on a multi-sensory level.

This trend has only begun to influence LED applications – and new technologies are making interactive LEDs more sophisticated and accessible than ever before. This article describes the relevance of interactive technology in various industries, the existing state of interactive LED mapping, and outline an autonomous LED mapping technology that expands the current range of interactive LED applications.

 

Interactive stage lightin

 

Interactive technologies are growing in demand

The digital age has allowed anyone to curate information. With limited resources, millions are able to publish content and connect to global networks. People expect a greater level of participation and control over their digital environments. Much of our non-digital experiences remain unchanged despite this shift in digital experience. As a result, many facets of the real world struggle to stay relevant: Retail centres are losing revenue, university enrolments are declining, and community-centred activities are struggling to survive in the Netflix era.

Interactive technologies are becoming more common across spheres of public and private life to stay relevant and increase revenue:

  • Voice-controlled smart hubs are growing in popularity in private residences, creating a common interactive interface for a number of domestic devices.
  • Shopping malls are embracing interactive technologies, such as virtual try-on mirrors, interactive marketing displays, interactive LEDs on building facades (Singapore’s Illuma), virtual immersive experiences, and robotics.
  • Some theatres are testing multi-sensory experiences by manipulating temperatures, scents, and tactile experiences.
  • Education institutions of all levels are introducing more hands-on, interactive learning approaches, such as STEAM.

Implementation of these technologies through public art, entertainment, and education has uncovered many benefits. For participants, multi-sensory input elevates entertainment value, or conversely, calming synesthesia-like effects. It also appeals to various learning styles⁵⁶⁷ in educational settings. Interactive technologies benefit retail-focused spaces by increasing foot traffic and brand loyalty through customer engagement. They also transform under-utilized civic space into social hubs, improving public safety and revitalizing neighbourhoods.

It is clear that interactive, multi-sensory experiences are poised for rapid growth globally. Traditional sectors such as retail, entertainment, and education are struggling to catch up to our world’s digital transformation. These sectors are utilizing interactive technologies to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world. Modern LED technologies play an important but under-utilized role in interactive experiences.

 

Existing interactive LED technologies are limited

LED technologies have been under-utilized in the interactive marketplace for a number of reasons: interactive LED technology has been limited to simplistic sound-to-light interaction – and even in this application, achieving interactions is a laborious and expensive process.

 

Traditional sectors such as retail, entertainment, and education are struggling to catch up to our world’s digital transformation. These sectors are utilizing interactive technologies to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world. Modern LED technologies play an important but under-utilized role in interactive experiences.

 

Until now, interactive LED technology has been largely realized through automatic music-to-light mapping. Driving light fixtures from musical input, known as light organs, was first presented in a 1929 patent: The patent mechanically models light automatically from audio frequencies. A 1989 patent employed electrical resonant circuits to respond to low, medium, and high frequencies. Modern, digital music-to-light mapping systems have a number of advantages over these early systems. Computers can digitally process audio in real-time and extract control signals (energy in certain frequency bins, or tempo, for example) to more meaningfully map lighting schemes.

Some modern lighting control equipment, including hardware and software lighting consoles and VJ software systems, provide designer interfaces to map beat or frequency-based control signals to parameters that modulate lighting. For example, designers can map the amplitude of a 60-100 Hz frequency bin to DMX fixture brightness. This would create a visual “pumping” effect in response to bass.

This paradigm of manually connecting simple control signals – most often derived from the incoming audio signal frequencies—is closely modeled after the original light organ techniques from the 20th century. There has been little innovation in this field since its inception. In addition, mapping light interactions using this method is time-consuming for designers, and as a result, costly for consumers.

 

Potential beyond music-to-light mapping

Beyond music-to-light mapping for LED systems, there is great potential for other interactive data inputs. There has been an explosion, in recent years, for low-cost sensor technologies coupled with easy-to-use micro-controllers such as Raspberry PI. These technologies are capable of sensing data inputs from physical environments more cheaply, accurately, and easily than previously possible.

In terms of LED interactivity and mapping, data inputs could include:

  • Audio
  • Voice recognition
  • Motion detection
  • Data streams (from social media or other live inputs such as weather patterns)

Some commercially-available software products, such as the Isadora system, enable complex input/output system building. This allows designers to map a variety of inputs (such as sensors) to multimedia outputs, such as projections or audio effects. Again, using LEDs as output is largely unexplored.

Although very well designed and capable of dealing with complexity, existing systems still require expert designers to inform mappings between inputs and outputs, and to direct visualizations as inputs change and evolve. No existing technology has been capable of autonomously listening to data input, monitoring output, and learning to make intelligent decisions to map LED visuals over time.

 

Interactive dj lighting

 

This article discusses a new paradigm in interactive LED control: artificially intelligent systems that eliminate the programming expertise, time, and cost required to create advanced interactive LED experiences. Such a system intuitively recognizes distinct input features (from audio or otherwise) in real-time. Input features are mapped according to human-based preferences, without direct human control. This makes interactive LED applications more accessible and less costly to a variety of industries seeking interactive solutions, while elevating user experiences.

 

LED control that maps inputs and drives output autonomously

Imagine an LED installation that intuitively “listens to” audio or other real-time data input and adapts accordingly, learning over time, with no human intervention. This new approach to interactive LED mapping uses an “intelligent” system based on mainly three key elements.

interactive lighting platform

Fig. 1

 

The system is composed of:

  • A temporal correlation unit (110). This acts like a brain, inputting, processing, recording, retrieving, and outputting data. Data inputs can include audio (either from a microphone or line-in audio), motion detection sensor inputs from a camera, data streams (from weather patterns, the stock exchange, tallied votes, or social media, for example), or interfaces that request data input from an audience
  • An oscillator (140). This perturbs the inputs, introducing variation to the LED output. This produces light interactions that are lively, dynamic, and less predictable to the viewer
  • A signal mixer unit (150). This mixes input signals in various ways to create different outputs

The temporal correlation unit references input signals for distinct features, and determines how the oscillator and signal mixer unit behave in response. The system also determines how the output signal spans through a specific color space.

interactive lighting platform

Fig. 2

Figure 3 expands on potential external inputs (120). As with prior technology, the system analyzes binned frequency content (210, 235) and time domain envelopes (215). In addition, the system recognizes and classifies higher-level musical features (220).

Some examples include:

  • Percussion/other specific instruments
  • Vocal qualities
  • Musical genre
  • Key
  • Dissonance and harmony
  • Sentiment
  • Transitions (e.g. from verse to chorus)

The system also interprets nonmusical data inputs (225) in real-time. This includes non-musical audio features, such as speech recognition or environmental sounds (rain, wind, lightning, or footsteps), or the other non-audio data inputs previously described.

Features can be reflected as LED-mapped output in many ways. LED parameters such as motion, color palette, brightness, and decay adapt to reflect specific data input features. This creates LED displays that are more intuitively-mapped to human preferences than previous light-mapping technology. The system’s ability to map intuitively and autonomously in real-time heightens the users’ multi-sensory experience and potential for LED interactivity.

 

Referenced Data Input Determines LED Mapping

An intelligent LED mapping system relies on referenced input signals. The system analyzes new data input for familiar features based on referenced input stored in the temporal correlation unit. Over time, the system optimizes database searches. This allows it to predict input features from audio or other data streams, and create a more intuitive, real-time visual LED output on its own.

The system’s ability to map intuitively and autonomously in real-time heightens the users’ multi-sensory experience and potential for LED interactivity.

When the temporal correlation unit has been adequately trained, it can predict human listeners’ preferences, and map LEDs accordingly for musical, other audio, and non-audio inputs. This system provides a more intuitive, engaging user experience with no need for customized LED programming knowledge or real-time human control:

  • The temporal correlation unit trains itself to map output effectively in three ways: The system acts as a neural network by comparing new data inputs to similar inputs stored in the system’s database. New output features are modeled after those of referenced inputs. This allows the system to quickly reference previous lighting output configurations rather than creating them on the fly. Previous technology requires a technician to manually choose which lighting cues to load and when, whereas this system automatically chooses which cues to load and when. Neural networks can also be supervised. In a supervised neural network, the system recognizes specific data input features that indicate audience approval of the LED mapped output. These input features could include: manual switches, face recognition, or voice recognition that indicate emotional states. This serves to further refine the system’s output choices according to human preferences.

 

  • The system can also utilize evolutionary algorithms. Evolutionary algorithms are used in artificially intelligent systems – they are modeled after selection mechanisms found in evolutionary biology (firefly attraction, ant pheromone trail setting, and bird flocks, for example) to optimize data searches.Evolutionary algorithms, such as a genetic algorithm, allow an LED control system to independently find and select the most effective lighting outputs without human control. As with a supervised neural network, the system governed by genetic algorithms seeks specific audience cues that suggest approval of the mapped LED output. This serves as a fitness function, training the temporal correlation unit to respond to real-time input signals. Third way of the system to train itself

 

  • Similarly to evolutionary algorithms, a system can utilize interacting intelligent agents. Agents also mimic natural patterns in code by responding to specific, predefined rules (e.g. a specific frequency produces a certain color space). Each agent applies a set of rules to generate temporal sequences for LED mappings, again seeking audience cues to train the system how to respond appropriately to input.Agent rules can be parametric. For example, rule parameters are determined by the physical arrangement of LEDs in 2D or 3D installations. A suite of techniques known as nature inspired algorithms, which are modeled after naturally occurring patterns, are a credible source for generative content when considering lighting output. This approach works particularly well with large numbers of LED pixels.

 

Implications of technology for industries and end-users

An intuitive method of mapping LEDs according to human preferences means that multi-sensory, interactive lighting are more immersive and emotive than ever before. An intelligent, autonomous LED control system has many benefits and applications for end-users and various sectors.

Interactive LED lighting at a climbing gym in Victoria, BC

Benefits for end-users:

  • Educational programs can use such systems to leverage multi-sensory, interdisciplinary curriculums that address various learning styles
  • Holiday, architectural, and other lighting companies that already employ LED technologies, can use the system to employ a more interactive, human-centric approach to design
  • Retail centres can use the system’s interactivity, particularly live social media hashtags as data input, to attract customers and leverage brand presence online
  • Cities can incorporate the system in their efforts to revitalize public space by:
    • Investing in interactive, public art using LEDs
    • Visualizing data gathered through smart city initiatives
    • Attracting foot traffic to business areas
    • Improving public safety
    • Place making and creating community focal points
  • Clubs, venues, and AV teams can quickly and effectively create improved visual effects for live performances and DJs
  • Public centres and exhibition venues that adhere to redesign cycles can adapt the system with changing data input types and LED configurations to refresh displays year after year
  • Non-technical users are able to access sophisticated interactive technology without custom programming or design knowledge
  • Users can avoid the time and cost associated with creating and maintaining interactive LED displays
  • LED displays can be controlled and scaled across multiple locations at a lower cost

 

Implications for technicians

It is often assumed that technological advances, particularly using AI, have the potential to destroy jobs. The described system simplifies or removes the programming process, making the technology more accessible and affordable than previous interactive LED technologies – but this does not necessarily imply job obsolescence for lighting designers and technicians. The technology will only change and improve the state of the art in the future, providing a number of benefits for industry professionals.

Benefits for professionals:

  • Provides a sophisticated tool for the lighting designers that can be used in conjunction with existing professional lighting protocols such as DMX
  • Saves lighting designers programming time
  • Allows designers to scale large projects at a lower cost
  • Opens the door to a wider variety of LED applications in industries outside the current status quo
  • Allows designers to manipulate lighting schemes with data input other than music
  • Allows designers to improve or incorporate audience interactivity

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Interactive technologies are poised for global growth, allowing various industries to offer engaging, multi-sensory experiences in non-digital settings. Applying interactivity to LED technologies opens a variety of doors into a number of sectors looking to attract, engage, and educate communities in settings that struggle to stay relevant in our digital world.

Until recent advancements in LED control technology, mapping data input to lighting design has been limited to audio input using age-old light organ techniques. While low-cost and easy to use micro-controllers such as Raspberry PI have opened new doors in LED mapping, the process still requires skilled lighting designers and programmers. The cost and time associated with creating and maintaining interactive LED displays using these methods has made interactive LED applications costly and inaccessible to a variety of industries and audiences.

interactive public art

A new technology, outlined in “System and Method for Predictive Generation of Visual Sequences,” addresses these barriers to new LED applications by controlling LED interactivity autonomously yet elegantly. The system analyzes data input, including music, non-musical audio, and non-audio data streams for distinct input features. Input features are mapped into distinct LED output parameters based on human preferences, and indexed into the system’s database. This indexing allows the system to autonomously predict upcoming data input and intelligently refine its output over time.

The system’s design avoids the need for timely human programming and maintenance, creates LED mapping that looks aesthetically detailed and intuitive, and allows real-time interaction from a variety of data inputs. This has clear benefits to the LED lighting industry: it opens doors to new applications in various sectors seeking interactive solutions for consumers. It creates heightened multi-sensory, end-user experiences. It offers a sophisticated tool for lighting technicians and professional designers.

 

References:

[5] Johnson, Gretchen L., and Edelson, Jill R.. “Integrating Music and Mathematics in the Elementary Classroom.” Teaching Children Mathematics, Vol. 9, No. 8, April 2003, pp. 474-479.
[6] Wilmes, Barbara, Harrington, Lauren, Kohler-Evans, Patty, and Sumpter, David. “Coming to Our Senses: Incorporating Brain Research Findings into Classroom Instruction.” Education, Vol. 128, No. 4, Summer 2008, pp. 659-666.
[7] Kast, Monika, Baschera, Gian-Marco, Gross, Markus, Jäncke, Lutz & Meyer, Martin. “Computer-based learning of spelling skills in children with and without dyslexia.” Annals of Dyslexia, 12 May, 2011, DOI: 10.1007/s11881-011-0052-2

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.

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