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This is no traditional museum exhibit — an immersive experience that challenges visitors to look forward and design their own futures. No historical recreations here. Instead, there’s play, video, interactive gaming and multitouch interactives. It’s fun, but the point is serious. Visitors are faced with a future energy crisis and they have to create a solution.
Future Energy Chicago is a visionary MUSE award-winning exhibit at the city’s Museum of Science & Industry that aims to inspire visitors and give them the knowledge and skills to make better, smarter decisions about energy.
Electrosonic is helping the museum to achieve that aim by creating an all-digital, immersive gaming environment featuring video, dynamic media, projection mapping, multichannel audio and interactive exhibits. It’s fast, competitive and totally engaging.
Visitors follow an immersive pathway that takes them through discovery, understanding and challenge to a solution through a seamless interactive experience.
In the first phase, they rediscover the nature of energy in the dynamic Energy Garden. It’s playtime and pure theatre — ride a bike, turn a handle and trees light up, text revolves and images move.
Then movement stops, the arena darkens and a video begins. The film explores potential energy scenarios before challenging the audience to take action, now. That sets the scene for the Future Energy Chicago simulation game. Visitors compete in teams, taking turns at five interactive stations to redesign a car, house, neighborhood, transportation system and city power grid for the future, all focused on energy efficiency and conservation.
Teams use interactive stations to create their designs; projection mapping transforms the five original models and multi-channel audio communicates advice and guidance directly to each team. A dynamic scoreboard keeps track of progress and announces the winning team.
Audiovisual and interactivity have transformed an exhibit with a serious message into an immersive fun experience that engages visitors and gives them the opportunity to understand and take action on their future.
Creating and controlling a large-scale immersive experience represents a major challenge. The gaming area utilizes multitouch interactive stations for each of the five challenges, with additional stations for the neighborhood game. Each station required custom software with projection mapping used to digitally transform existing models.
The facilitators wanted to be able to communicate with the teams so multi-channel audio had to be set up to reach players individually without intruding on adjacent games.
Electrosonic partnered with Evidence Design, Potion Design and Steve Haas Acoustics. Careful structuring, smart integration, targeted audio and sophisticated show control enables up to 30 visitors at a time to take part in the experience.
The control systems integrate with the video and the individual stations to keep the experience moving at a good pace and avoid hold-ups. With so much technology in a small area, careful planning conceals infrastructure and ensures easy access for routine maintenance.
Future Energy Chicago is helping change perceptions of energy by connecting visitors with its production and giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions and create smarter solutions for the future. Digital experiences relevant to the next generation of energy users deliver the message in a fun way. In recognition of its achievements, the museum received a Gold MUSE award for use of media and technology to engage an audience.