In-store installations can be interesting. After a long spell of doing (mostly) pharmaceutical trade show booth designs, I was feeling a little typecast. It’s refreshing to do work intended for customers without the legal constraints built into to the pharma industry. This build is for the Nike flagship store in Las Vegas, located within the Caesars Place hotel with such retail neighbors as Fendi, Vuitton, Rolex, and other high taxbracketers…
Nike released 3 new special edition sneakers as part of their “Elite” line for Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James. I didn’t handle design of the physical structure on this one (see below about the Guild), but I did all the tech work, installation, and projection mapping.
I always enjoy working with an idea that is going to produce surprise in the user. It is fun for me to see how people react and interact with such a build, and i’m not so jaded that I can’t learn some new lessons by watching interactions in action. In this case, we’re using switchable glass, a magically low-tech material that delivers well on surprise factor – an LCD material laminated into large sheets that are optically clear when voltage is applied in a binary way. No voltage = opaque glass. The presence of voltage = clear glass. It’s great. It works.
The Guild (guildisgood.com) is an awesome company that started at around the same time Sam Ewen and I started Supertouch. We’ve worked closely with them on some of our first projects with great success. In a world where very few companies do “hardware” well, it makes sense that we’d join forces through a merger. The Guild (their Los Angeles workshop in this case, a veritable maker’s paradise) did the physical build and much of the design on this. I handled the technology. Large sheets of the switchable glass were built into a “pod” which is our display area for each sneaker. The pod is large, a user is meant to step into it and on to a hexagon shaped platform. The sneaker itself, outfitted with rare earth magnets (purchased from a guy in Karakoy who schooled me on the joys of geocaching for about an hour, quite random) sits on an acrylic shoe stand. Routed out of the acrylic is a small space for our Hall Effect sensor (it senses magnetic fields). When the sneaker is on it’s stand, the Hall Effect sensor is telling an Arduino that the sneaker (or rather, the magnet inbuilt) is within a distance that satisfies my code. When the sneaker is removed from the stand, the Hall Effect sensor tells the Arduino that the signal is weak/missing and the Arduino then does 2 things : switch’s the switchable glass to its clear state via a 110v 15amp relay, and tells a Processing sketch to send some OSC (open sound control) messaging to specific computers on our local network. The computers receiving the OSC message then switches from a static black projection to the looping content that goes with each individual sneaker on display.
We used 4 projections to hit 3 pods. The reason for 4 projectors was because of the store layout. The center pod required that I point two projectors at it from the far right and far left of the store. As the center pod is lit by 2 projectors, the effect of them both switching “on” at the same time must be timed tightly or else the effect falls apart. I was rushing to make a flight and processing wasn’t cooperating with timedelay’s – VVVV to the rescue. I used it to receive the OSC for both projectors hitting the center pod and I used a slider UI to visually tweak a time offset (in milliseconds) for the faster switching projector, enabling me to quickly match the latency of the slower projector computer.