design + technology
We use technology to explore new forms of artistic expression, performance, storytelling, education and design.
A truly immersive experience is not static; it is adaptive, reactive and dynamic. We make connections between what people do and their impact on design and story.
Our roots are in live performance which gives us a very unique perspective on interaction design: we can create experiences that are both communal and personal to provide handles that allow you to make it your own, experiences that know who you are and remember you were there, experiences that empower people to directly affect their own story.
Not only do we help dream up immersive, interactive experiences, we have the technical chops to make it all happen. We code, we build custom electronics, we curate (and misappropriate) a lot of different sensing technologies, and we talk to a lot of different show control devices. If the technology doesn't exist yet,
we invent it.
We apply our expertise to a wide variety of projects, including large- and small-scale exhibitions for museums, shows & atmospheric experiences for theme parks, live theater, dance and television.
Much of the interactive work we do can be best described as physical interaction design since most of our dialogues in an interactive experience involve some physical action – a certain movement, wielding a prop, touching a set piece, being in a certain location, relationships to other performers and guests, and so on.
The video below, made back in 2010, still gives some good examples of physical interaction design as well as a taste of the type of work we do.
R&D and Widgets
We do a lot of R&D.
Sometimes the research is motivated by the projects we work on, sometimes it's a new piece of technology that we get our hands on, or sometimes it starts in the studio with a seemingly harmless question "what if we...?". Every once in a while our efforts become widgets: useful pieces of software and hardware that have a life beyond a "one off."
Why so much R&D?
Interactivity starts with the ability to sense people's actions. In an interactive experience where guests and performers control outcomes of story, lights, sound, and other design elements, actions must be quantified. Once we do this, we can then derive movement, gestures, proximity, physical actions, group behavior, and location and use this information to trigger design. More importantly, we can use the information to drive the story. There is no single sensor or system that will create a turnkey solution for each and every interactive scenario, so we spend considerable time researching different sensing technologies and physical computing platforms, and quite often design and build our own widgets.
Once these sensors quantify actions, however, we need to translate these numbers into the desired outcomes.
That's where Diva comes in.
Diva is our proprietary library of middleware tools that helps us to do what we do. Started in the late 1990's, Diva has been, and continues to be, developed to be utilized throughout the design and production process. Work with Diva often starts with rapid prototyping, developing and exploring new ideas in the rehearsal and development phase, and continues through the final outcome, triggering and manipulating content in real time once a production, exhibition, or attraction opens. The middleware is also hardware agnostic, meaning that although at times we need to develop special code for Diva to talk to other proprietary systems, we have never tied ourselves to a particular proprietary protocol or technology or approach. This allows us to simply focus on the best tools and methods for solving a given problem.
Diva helps us make the connections in an interactive experience, whether it's between performer and audience, performer and performer, environment and guest, information and explorer, and even guest to guest.
For our clients this means we can build robust middleware and spec the most appropriate hardware quickly and cost-effectively, giving us more time and resources to focus on what's really important: the experience.