Spatial Computing and its role in Themed Entertainment
Spatial computing is a term that has gained a higher profile since Apple introduced its Vision Pro augmented reality headset with the phrase “Welcome to the era of spatial computing”.
But what is spatial computing? and is it limited to the world of augmented reality, or does it have a wider role in themed entertainment? Electrosonic believes that spatial computing can play a key role in the evolution and transformation of theme parks, museums, attractions and beyond.
An evolving term
Before considering potential applications, it’s important to agree on a definition because ‘spatial computing’ is seen as a term that is still evolving.
Yiannis Cabolis, Director of Technology Innovation, Electrosonic, describes spatial computing as “the utilization of digital technology to facilitate computer interaction within a three-dimensional realm – essentially, providing an interface between humans and digital volumetric applications”.
He added, “By employing spatial computing, actions and interactions between machines, individuals, objects and their surroundings can be enhanced and optimized”.
To enable the actions and interactions, spatial computing relies on sensors and input devices to gather real-time data about the physical environment. These input devices include cameras, depth sensors, motion trackers and haptic devices to capture depth, motion and gestures that provide vital inputs for spatial computing applications.
Enhancing storytelling and guest engagement
With those technologies in place, spatial computing can bring new possibilities for storytellers to create compelling and memorable narrative experiences, according to Yiannis Cabolis. Spatial computing can enhance storytelling by providing immersive environments, enabling interactivity and user participation, offering multidimensional narratives, augmenting the context, facilitating collaborative storytelling and intensifying emotional engagement.
Transforming the theme park experience
Traditionally, theme park operators have relied on physical rides and attractions to create a memorable guest experience. However, by introducing applications supported by spatial computing, operators can open up endless new virtual possibilities as this powerful technology revolutionizes the way guests interact with attractions.
For example, spatial computing can support virtual reality applications that create more immersive rides with 3D visuals and intense sound effects. Video kiosks in a park could allow people to become their favorite characters through a digital overlay on the screen. Rides could incorporate personalized gamification through augmented reality – allowing riders to interact with virtual elements as they move through the physical space.
A great example is Disney's Spiderman WEB SLINGER experience at the Avengers Campus, which uses a spatial computing application to simulate web shooting out of visitors' wrists.
On the WEB SLINGER ride vehicle, built-in sensors integrate with gesture recognition technology to track fans’ arm movements as they mimic Spiderman’s signature web-shooting action to kill Spider-Bots with virtual webs. During the ride, 3D video from 38 projectors, LED imagery, onboard audio and sound effects from hundreds of speakers create an immersive environment for this interactive gameplay.
Spatial computing technology can also be used to create more interactive experiences as well as support greater personalization. For example, visitors could be given the opportunity to customize their own rides or become involved in interactive games within the theme park.
By incorporating AI technology and leveraging data, interactive experiences can be created where themed characters review and provide feedback on the guest’s performance during rides where spatial technology enables guests to carry out tasks. This enhances the sense of immersion and connection, making guests feel like valued participants in the themed worlds.
Leveraging theme park assets
The themed entertainment industry possesses a unique advantage over other visitor attractions. It has rich content, immersive theming, and deep engagement from guests with popular brands and intellectual properties. That provides a strong foundation for harnessing the power of spatial computing in unique ways.
Already, theme parks are incorporating spatial computing technology into their attractions, allowing visitors to experience fully immersive 3D environments and as the technology matures, these enhanced experiences are set to become more common.
Extending the experience beyond the theme park
Spatial computing can also support applications that extend the guest experience beyond the boundaries of the theme park.
For example, guests could visit three-dimensional models of the venue prior to their visit to plan out their experience and get a sense of what’s to come.
The guest experience can continue after visiting a theme park. A visit to a themed experience could provide access to a game that guests can play at home. The experience could contain elements such as quests and tasks that are gradually revealed over time and allow guests to complete tasks at home. The synergy between the live experience at the park and the game at home game ensures a continuous cycle of anticipation and fulfilment This creates a sense of achievement and engagement while building relationships that encourage repeat visits.
This can help to extend the magic beyond the physical boundaries of their theme park and build a deeper connection between guests and the park’s brands.
Shaping the future of themed entertainment
These are some of the powerful possibilities of spatial computing for the themed entertainment industry. Together, they have the potential to allow operators to deliver new experiences and update existing attractions that can enhance the guest experience, increase revenue and strengthen customer loyalty.
Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has been at the forefront of sophisticated attraction design and implementation. The company has helped design innovative AV and media systems for many attractions that have received Thea Awards, including Snorri Touren at Europa-Park, honored in 2021 with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement. Electrosonic also led key audio, video and automation roles in attractions such as Masha and the Bear Land of Laughter at Land of Legends in Antalya, Turkey; and The Globe 30-foot interactive LED illuminated sculpture at AT&T Discovery District, an award-winning city district in the heart of Dallas, open since June 2021.
Electrosonic can provide essential support for the evolution of your themed entertainment experiences with its Technology Design Consultancy, System Engineering and Build, Project Management and Managed Services and Support. Electrosonic has been pioneering experiential technology solutions for themed entertainment for almost 60 years and has delivered countless award-winning projects for high-profile operators around the world.
As Yiannis Cabolis explains, “We have a collective know-how that, in my opinion, is second to none because we have been around for quite some time. We are also unique due to our Technology Partner program at Electrosonic, which brings together cutting-edge technology innovators in both hardware and software to create synergies among like-minded companies, enabling the creation of world-class experiential technology”.
Yiannis Cabolis, Director of Technology Innovation at Electrosonic, shares the inside track on how technology drives innovation. He brings 30 years’ experience monitoring emerging technologies, developing best practices and driving Research and Development to solve challenges and help clients understand how to benefit from the latest engineered technology solutions.
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