Digital Activations Using Computer Vision

In our daily life, our eyes and minds work together to interpret the world around us. Computer vision aims to provide a similar, if not better, capability to a machine (or computer). This includes extracting data, discovering/developing algorithms, and understanding visual information. The applications of computer vision are seemingly endless and include: augmented reality, self-driving vehicles, biometrics, feature recognition, security, robotics and our favorite of course, digital activations.

The possibilities to create a marketing campaign, themed attraction or exhibit using computer vision are endless. Here are some notable examples including some shameless plugs of our own work:

Flip Disc Display by Breakfast

New York City, NY

According to NYC company Breakfast, “Flip-Disc Display System is the first ready-to-use kinetic display. It’s modular panel design allows you to configure any size screen you’d like, while the out-of-the-box software means you’ll be displaying custom content within minutes of powering it up.” The system can be completely customized but the by default it allows you to display photos, videos and text at an impressive 30 frames per second. Flip-disc displays were once considered old fashioned, but leave it to a company based in Brooklyn to make them hip again.

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The Smithsonian: Human Body Interactive Exhibit

Washington DC

Our team at X Studios was selected to design and develop an interactive exhibit leveraging computer vision. We oversaw design, 3D modeling, rigging and programming of the interactive. The exhibit is designed primarily for young children to learn about the human body –– when approached by a guest, the skeleton scales itself according to the guests’ height and mirrors their movements. The experience interface allows the guest to toggle on/off the various body systems (skeletal, muscular and internal organs) with their virtual arms.

National Museum of American History

Washington DC

Another project completed by our team was a digital dressing room in the NMAH, also in Washington DC. In the activation, visitors can try on different items of clothing from the museum’s collection. The “Magic Mirrors” are a much more engaging way for museum-goers to understand and relate to the costumes housed in the museum rather than simply viewing them. What’s more, the images allow for a fun social media sharing experience.

Rain Room at LACMA

Los Angelas, CA

In this immensely popular exhibit in Los Angeles, visitors can do the seemingly impossible and walk inside a torrent of falling rain. The mechanics behind this experience involve light sensors and computer vision. Although cloaked in mystery, the magic is revealed on the museum’s website, however, as participants are warned not to wear dark or reflective clothing, otherwise sensors cannot “see” them and they will actually get wet!

"Connections" at F8


While this activations is several years old, it still holds up as an excellent example. In 2011, the agency Obscura Digital created an activation for the annual Facebook conference to allow attendees to truly visualize and be a part of the chain-reactions of social media. Multiple participants would step into colored circles and lines would form between them if they had friends or shared interests in common. What’s more, when people had more than one mutual friend with another individual, a slideshow of their photos and interests would appear on a screen behind them. This was a great use case for making something as dry as “social graph data” vivid and exciting.

Regardless of the activation where you are employing computer vision, it is essential to never forget creativity as a central part of the design process. That’s why having a partner like X Studios that not only has the technical capabilities but also creative prowess can make your project leave a lasting impact.

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