Washington DC building features motion-sensing, audio-playing walls fitted with giant interactive displays

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Innovation, be it in science, technology or design, is a constantly-evolving process. Architects, for instance, are continually trying to re-imagine things that are otherwise commonplace and forgettable. As part of a new project, the team at Manhattan-based ESI Design has transfigured boring, white walls into incredibly futuristic displays that can change colors in response to the activity inside the building.

Aimed to foster a “sense of connection across the building’s common areas”, this unusual project envisions walls not as monotonous, yet necessary, structures, but as blank canvasses that can be embellished in different ways. For the project, architects from ESI Design have installed nearly 1,700-sq-ft  (around 158-sq-m) of highly-interactive media displays along the walls of Terrell Place in Washington DC.

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According to the team, these hi-tech floor-to-ceiling screens have been seamlessly integrated into the walls of the building’s ground floor. The screens are designed to display three specially-chosen displays, depending on the amount of movements detected inside the building. To that end, the system is equipped with as many as 14 advanced infrared cameras that can monitor any kind of motion.

Of the 14 cameras, six are present in the building’s primary lobby, with the secondary lobby featuring four of these high-tech contraptions. The remaining four have been installed in each of the corridors. As the architects point out, the images are intended to “ebb and flow based on activity within the building, such as the morning rush and the afternoon lull”.

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Measuring approximately 80 ft (or 24 m) in width and about 13 ft (4 m) in height, the largest media display is clearly visible through the surrounding windows. According to the team, it relies on a high-brightness LED display technology, using a specialized diffusion screen to somewhat soften the emanating light. The system is driven by three, separate computers, each with dual Nvidia Quadro M5000 graphics card. An additionally computer serves as a backup, in case one of the components malfunctions. A Mac Pro is also used for the purpose of sensor processing.

Apart from displaying soothing images, these interactive walls also play audio, with the help of two Mac Minis and speakers concealed behind the walls and the ceilings. Furthermore, a specially-equipped supervisory system oversees all the operations, while also receiving LED temperature warnings. It is built to control the lighting system and even send notifications to the personnel.

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The three sets of images are called “Seasons”, “Cityscape” and “Color Play” respectively. They are in turn programmed to run different sequences for varying duration. For instance, the first imagery showcases the yearly growth cycle of Washington’s beautiful cherry trees, starting from right before they are in full blossom. Color Play, as its name suggests, projects differently colored patterns, in accordance with any kind of movement inside the building.

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The Cityscape, on the other hand, depict scenes from the capital city of Washington DC. Speaking about this inventive project, Michael Schneider of ESI Design said:

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.

Source: ESI Design

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