Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Space Needle has been the symbol for the northwestern city for over fifty years. Over 1.5 million visitors come to the Space Needle each year, making the landmark the second-most visited public space in Seattle after the Seattle Central Library. After riding an elevator 520 feet up to the observation deck, visitors are greeted with a 360-degree vista of the city, Puget Sound, the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains. And now, they can also trace an interactive path though the saucer-shaped building’s history thanks to an innovative AV project.
Seattle based interactive design firm Belle & Wissell was given the task of designing an interactive platform where memories of visitors’ time spent at the Space Needle could be explored and shared. The firm utilized a Planar Clarity matrix video wall in order to create a way for visitors to leave their mark at the Space Needle.
“Planar’s Clarity Matrix is one of the best-in-class video wall solutions for so many reasons,” says Karen Olson, vice president of marketing for Space Needle, LLC. “For our operation, not only are the displays big and bright, but they are also durable and flexible and meet a variety of our needs in a cost-effective way. SkyPad helps our guests explore the Needle’s past, present and future like never before. They can immerse themselves in 50-plus years of sunsets, celebrations, history and imagination, all in a beautiful, elegant touchscreen experience.”
The 135-square-foot video wall, which has been named SkyPad, showcases the history and evolution of the landmark spire as it provides visitors an opportunity to become part of its future. The result is a stunning visual immersion that highlights both past and present, educating visitors as it enhances their connection with the historic architectural triumph. The collaboration has resulting in fulfilling the goal of creating a 21st century experience for the millions of visitors that travel to the Space Needle.
Key to the success of the installation is Planar’s technology. The interactive video wall is composed of 15 Clarity Matrix LCD video wall displays in a five-foot wide by three-foot high configuration. The video wall features the latest in multi-touch technology with 32 touch points, allowing multiple users to interact simultaneously with the video wall, as well as Clarity Matrix MultiTouch features Planar ERO (Extended Ruggedness and Optics) technology that provides a continuous touch surface rather than requiring protective glass in front of the video wall.
Using the Clarity matrix LCD technology, content is able to be placed anywhere throughout the video wall. A center section of the video wall depicts images of the Space Needle from the time it was constructed to the present day. Visitors can use the display’s touch capabilities to select images of interest and then explore them in greater detail with the touch of a finger.
On either end of the SkyPad are one-by-three foot display sections that make up a digital guest book. This is especially popular because guests can “pin” themselves and their names, home states and/or countries so that they appear on a digital globe within each display. With their names up in lights on the globe, visitors can snap photos and share their Space Needle experience on social media. Guests can also upload images to the Space Needle website and add them to the Space Needle’s social media content stream.
Since the video wall was installed in July 2014, more than 93,000 visitors from 285 countries have added their names to the guest book. Engagement numbers continue to increase as the superior visual performance of the Clarity Matrix video wall draws visitors into the experience.
“The image quality is beautiful even when standing close and interacting with the video wall. We can also broadcast HDTV on it and it looks amazing,” Olson said.
The SkyPad video wall builds on the use of top-notch digital technology throughout the Space Needle, while saluting the building’s legacy as an icon of Space Age innovation. You can watch a video of the SkyPad from SEGD here.