New York Hall of Science

Virtual Exhibit Helps Visitors Reconnect with Nature

The groundbreaking exhibition immerses visitors in a fantastical world where their physical actions impact how well this world is kept in balance.

Challenges

In the newly-renovated iconic Great Hall, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) planned to launch a new exhibit which would present complex, data driven environmental science to the public in a fun and collaborative way. They conceived of Connected Worlds, an immersive, interactive virtual ecosystem that must be kept in balance by patrons collaborating together. The exhibit is driven by captivating animations and motion-sensing technologies responsive to both physical and digital interaction.

Solutions

To achieve its goals, NYSCI required bright, reliable technology that could also support the exhibit’s interactive components. After earnestly reviewing one other brand, NYSCI deployed 9 PT-DZ21KU and 10 PT-DZ13KU edge-blended projectors to create a seamless and immersive visitor experience. Illuminating about 3,000 sq. ft. of space, the projectors display the interactive animations onto the floor and on two 14 ft. tall, 120 ft. long curved walls that flank a giant 48 ft. virtual waterfall.

Results

Connected Worlds has been a huge success, bringing in about 600 visitors a day and garnering significant media attention for its groundbreaking learning design that offers a visually-engaging, collaborative way to learn about sustainability. The projectors, which are resistant to heat build-up compared with lamp-based projectors, have been reliable and durable, giving museum staff peace of mind and drastically minimizing maintenance time.

Connected Worlds is an immersive, interactive exhibition driven by captivating animations and motion-sensing technologies. Connected Worlds allows visitors to discover the interconnectedness of our natural environment by cooperatively interacting with different digital worlds. The project is part of a larger initiative to bring the core ideas of sustainability science to the public. As the museum began planning the exhibit, it tapped creative studio Design I/O and longtime technol¬ogy partner Panasonic to create this one-of-a-kind experience.

The main goal of the Connected Worlds project is to present complex, data driven science to the public in a way that is fun, educational, and collaborative. The exhibit, which simulates different ecosystems and can be manipulated by both physical and digital interaction, needed to be more than a walk in the woods – it needed to engage its audience. To achieve its goals, NYSCI required bright, reliable technology that could also support the exhibit’s interactive components.

We were fortunate early on to be acquainted with Panasonic equipment that can be easily controlled and has high resolution and brightness to fit this application.
Stephen Uzzo, Chief Scientist, New York Hall of Science

After earnestly reviewing one other brand, NYSCI deployed 9 PT-DZ21KU and 10 PT-DZ13KU high-brightness projectors on an overhead truss to create a dynamic, immersive visitor experience in the iconic Great Hall. The projectors display the animations onto the floor and on two 14 ft. tall curved walls that run about 120 ft. long, illuminating about 3,000 sq. ft. of space and flank a giant 48 ft. virtual waterfall. Multiple edge-blending projectors are able to warp and blend the imagery, creating a seamless experience for visitors.

"We were fortunate early on to be acquainted with Panasonic equipment that can be easily controlled and has high resolution and brightness to fit this application," said Stephen Uzzo, Chief Scientist, New York Hall of Science.

Dr. Uzzo notes that the projectors have been reliable and durable, allowing the museum staff to not worry about outages. The technology on these projectors leverages newer features that prolong the life of the projector when it is mounted in various positions beyond the normal alignment. The projectors are also resistant to heat buildup, which is a common problem with lamp-based projectors.

"Panasonic’s engineering support went above and beyond," said Dr. Uzzo. "We had to run four live prototype sessions before we installed in the Great Hall. Panasonic supported all of these by loaning equipment, sending engineers, and providing support for diagnostics – almost two years before we even bought anything! We really felt like Panasonic had a belief in what we were doing."

Connected Worlds has been a huge success, bringing in about 600 visitors a day. The exhibit offers a new way to learn about sustainability by enabling visitors to engage in their own learning process.

"The exhibit is not just an immersive experience, but also a social experience," said Dr. Uzzo. "Whole classes of students can interact with the exhibit while also interacting with each other, thereby offering a new, collaborative way to learn about sustainability. These interactive technologies have ushered in a new era of collaborative engagement with sustainability ideas."