Future Energy Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

AV Technology Highlights the Future of Energy
Chicago, Illinois

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The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago opened its new permanent exhibit, Future Energy Chicago, which challenges guests to compete on teams to make wise energy choices for a more sustainable city. Electrosonic teamed with exhibit designers Evidence Design, interactive designers Potion Design and Steve Haas Acoustics (SH Acoustics), to provide the audio-visual systems for the exhibit’s film and simulation game. Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team was involved from the start, providing the systems design and custom programming.

MSI Chicago

Electrosonic retrofitted the existing Energy Garden area with a 20-foot wide curved oval screen to display the 6-minute short film from Donna Lawrence Productions. Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team paid close attention to the lights and speakers and accurately positioned everything, including the 3-chip DLP projectors, on the existing grid in the low-ceiling room. Electrosonic also provided the video processing and masking to accommodate the oval screen. Speakers are housed above and behind the screen along with subwoofers.

MSI Chicago

Guests rediscover the nature of energy, transforming it from one form to another via a series of electro-mechanical devices —for example, riding a stationary bike will turn on a light. In the simulation area, guests form teams to play games at five interactive stations, in which they can design an energy-saving house, neighborhood, city power grid, transportation system and car.

MSI Chicago

LCD monitors are configured to form the Future House station with sides and a roof, which offers a range of multi-touch interactives with localized audio. The Future Neighborhood game extends the residence concept with more multi-touch interactives. Future Power illustrates the need for a smart mix of energy on a roundtable with three overhead projectors, while the Future Transportation game is laid out on a polygonal table with two overhead projectors. Future Car invites guests to design a new vehicle by video mapping images from overhead projectors onto a trio of small three-dimensional car models.

MSI Chicago

All of the overhead projectors feature gesture recognition. A 24 by 8-foot scoreboard keeps track of the teams’ interactive gameplay; a pair of edge-blended 3-chip DLP projectors and speakers display the scores and announce the winners. During the initial phases of the project, Electrosonic helped set up a mock up at the museum to determine the pixel sizes and equipment to use for the optimum visitor experience.

Show control keeps track of the short film and the gaming computers to ensure a good pace and flow of visitors. Exhibit facilitators are equipped with tablet computers as interfaces to control operational aspects of the exhibit, such as pause, stop and reset. Wireless mics allow facilitators to address guests, and also allow other staff presenters to lead special events in the space.

The equipment room is configured with four racks of source computers, amps and control systems. All computers are accessible to the content producers so they can update software for the simulation game as necessary.