Huge motion-sensing building installation is off-the-wall

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Displayed content is said to "ebb and flow based on activity within the building, such as the morning rush and the afternoon lull"

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If you're tired of boring blank building walls, Manhattan-based experiential design firm ESI Design has a solution. The firm has outfitted Terrell Pace in the US capital Washington, DC, with 1,700 sq ft (158 sq m) of interactive media displays that react to activity within the building.

The aim of the installation is to create "a sense of connection across the building's common areas," with the walls treated as a single media canvas to do so. The (almost) floor-to-ceiling displays are integrated into the walls of Terrell Place throughout the public spaces of its ground floor.

Three sets of content have been created to be shown on the displays, with each reacting to the amount of motion detected by 14 infrared cameras that monitor activity around the installation. There are six in the main lobby, four in the secondary lobby and one in each of the corridors. Scenes from each piece of content are said to "ebb and flow based on activity within the building, such as the morning rush and the afternoon lull."

The largest media wall is 80-ft (24-m) wide and 13-ft (4-m) high and can be seen by passersby through the building's large display windows. It uses a high-brightness LED display and, like the other displays in the installation, has a diffusion screen that sits in front of it to soften the light emitted.

The whole system is powered by three computers with dual Nividia Quadro M5000 Graphics cards. A fourth computer with the same setup is kept spare, while a Mac Pro is used for sensor processing.

Two Mac Minis control accompanying audio, which is output through speakers hidden in the walls and ceilings. Finally, a supervisory system monitors the computers, gets LED temperature warnings, communicates with the building lighting system to trigger preset content scenes and sends status notifications to the team.

The three content sets, or "modes" as ESI refer to them, are titled "Seasons," "Color Play," and "Cityscape," with each able to be programmed with varying sequences and different durations. Seasons shows the lifecycle of Washington's iconic cherry trees, with the trees beginning to blossom and butterflies fluttering as people walk by. Color Play shows patterns of multicolor threads that spread across the walls and react to movement, while Cityscape shows scenes of the city of Washington that become more animated as people pass.

"Each of the media scenes reflects the time of day and the movement of people through the lobby, acting almost as a large abstract data-visualization of the ebb and flow of Terrell Place," says senior creative technology designer at ESI Design Michael Schneider.

The video below provides a look at the installation, which was opened in June 30.

Source: ESI Design

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