SHEDD AQUARIUM: WIlD REEF
Longtime partner Shedd Aquarium was looking to upgrade an existing exhibit educating visitors about the scientific community’s efforts to restore coral reef populations through breeding and disseminating heat-tolerant corals. The goal was to create a projection that would be responsive and tactile, using an existing 25’ wall and working within a modest budget.
To achieve the dynamic interaction, we leveraged 4K projection mapping on a printed wall, and developed a redundant system of hand and body tracking with touch sensors to ensure every movement is translated to the projector. In order to disguise the technology, we installed the projector into the museum’s drop ceiling so that only a small periscope is visible.
We programmed the interactive wall using TouchDesigner for playback control and image warping, combined with five Bare Conductive capacitive touch sensors installed in the wall. TouchDesigner was also used for image output warping to compensate for light overspill. To protect the installation from major future maintenance issues, we designed a hand tracking system, using Google Mediapipe with TouchDesigner to track hand positions over the sensors for additional redundancy. Finally, we finalized hardware specifications, designed wiring diagrams, and planned for heat mitigation and airflow around the projector.
On-site at Shedd, our team installed an Epson 14K lumen projector with an ultra-short throw lens to get full coverage on the large surface. We installed the projector above the drop ceiling with only the lens protruding to hide the light source. Then, we configured and integrated all hardware, including the in-wall touch sensors and thoroughly tested each element to ensure it was ready for guest interaction and up to the challenge of educating about coral restoration.
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