Gensler and The Hive Debut Spatial Augmented Reality Experience

Mon Aug 19 2013

The immersive new smart space brings physical content to life using augmented reality and natural user interfaces.

Global design firm, Gensler, and digital signage and interactive agency, The Hive, unveil an innovative augmented reality experience. Known as The Hive / Gensler Multi Surface Experience, the installation is designed to engage and inform visitors to Gensler’s award-winning downtown Los Angeles office.

Located in Gensler’s lobby, the smart space installation is designed to showcase the architectural firm's portfolio of work. The experience attracts users toward a digitally augmented table, and book. The table is the SLO_Gen Table, an iconic collaboration between Gensler and architecture students at California Polytechnic School in San Luis Obispo. An interface appears on the table allowing visitors to use movements such as hand motions to digitally explore the content of Gensler’s urban architecture and modern cities monograph. The installation enhances each object with a new layer of digital content, and adds new context to the contents of the book.

The interface allows guests to access digital media from Gensler’s vast portfolio on a connected 4k video wall. This exceptional tableau showcases the firm’s work on across a variety of sectors ranging from expansive international airport projects in Palm Springs to Chennai, to intricate retail experiences in leading luxury stores—which can be explored on the video wall, or in the book.

The installation is an experimental project created by Gensler and The Hive to demonstrate the possibilities of a seamless integration between physical space and digital experience. “As architects and designers we try to understand how technology and experience affect the spaces we design,” said Alan Robles, experience designer at Gensler. “The Hive/Gensler Multi Surface Experience is a groundbreaking smart space that allows people to interact with their environment in a way that’s never been done before.”

“Spaces are evolving, just like users’ expectations of space are evolving. This installation is a channel that a user can experience,” The Hive’s Multi Display Expert and Co-Founder Yahav Ran says. “Just like a broadcast channel, or any other channel, it needs fresh, relevant content to appeal to users. Our challenge was to create a sustainable mini-channel that will keep visitors engaged, and excited.”

The Hive/Gensler Multi Surface Experience was built by The Hive using the latest products from technology partners Canon, Planar and YCD Multimedia. A Canon REALiS WUX5000 projector displays the interface and augmented reality components, while a four-panel Planar Clarity™ Matrix LCD Video Wall System displays the content from Gensler’s portfolio, using software from YCD. YCD|Wall enables a 4K playback over the Planar video wall, and YCD|CMS interacts with the custom software created by the Hive, namely the user experience and augmented reality components.

"We are proud to partner with Gensler, one of the most prestigious architecture firms in the world, and The Hive, a world-class interactive studio,” Sam Losar, President of YCD USA, says. "The success of this project reflects how close collaboration with the right partners provides a winning solution for our customers.”

Other technical components include Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows cameras, the Kinect for Windows Commercial SDK and OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision), which interprets the reality of the Gensler lobby, allowing the experience to be reactive to its surroundings in real-time.

The Multi Surface Experience is the first version of an ongoing collaboration between Gensler and The Hive. “This is just the beginning,” commented Jennifer Davis, vice president of marketing, Planar. “The application of this design will be natural in corporate lobbies, retail showrooms, as well as hospitality, healthcare, and institutional projects. The combination of digital and physical interfaces in an existing space, combined with the ability to show rich, and ultimately personalized, content, is what will make it applicable across markets.”

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