People Magazine Interactive Kinetic Screen Proposal

November, 2013



This video presents our concept for a large-scale, interactive, kinetic installation enabling a novel form of physical and performative multi-user interaction with screen-based media.



The kinetic screen concept shown here features 54 multi-axis robot arms, each terminating in a 32" display screen. Six of these display screens are multitouch input surfaces that can extend down so that users can control the installation through touch—like big iPads on moving arms. This fundamentally visceral design will allow for a choreography of form and digital content where a user's touch results in grand physical reconfiguration. 

We show the kinetic screens operating in two modes: Interactive and DemoIn Interactive mode the multitouch screens are extended down so that users can touch them to control their group of screens. Then, at set intervals the installation can switch to Demo mode. In this mode all the screens perform together to present short features. These features can be created at any time and include new screen configurations, movements, sound, and content. There could be any number of features for these performances, for instance they could display a 3-minute story about the Sexiest Man, a live broadcast, a sponsor's advertisement, or a current story from the People website. We imagine the installation would be programmed to display a series of these features throughout the day.



There are two main categories of content to consider: 1) interactive graphics on the multitouch screen, and 2) display content.

The interactive graphics will be on the multitouch screens which function as the user's interface and control system. The content can be similar to the types of buttons and other controls you would find on a multitouch tablet like the iPad (pinch, swipe, rotate, etc.).

The display content is extremely flexible. All kinds of content (video, graphics, light, etc.) could be developed and updated over time, completely revised, connected to realtime data, or social media. The content could be as simple as simulating the pages of a magazine or as novel as an interactive visualizations of realtime data connected to other media platforms on the web.



We are still early in the conception of this work. Here are some of the options we have in mind at the moment, but there are surely many more we have yet to discover:

  • Scale
    • The number and size of the arms can be changed. Fewer arms would reduce the cost and difficultly; more could allow for a larger audience and bigger impact.
  • Arm Layout
    • In this video we have the arms configured in a circle, but they could be a line along a wall, coming from the ground, or in various other geometries.
  • Screen Choreography
    • There are so many ways we could move and reconfigure the screens, we have only scratched the surface. Furthermore, the possibilities for choreographing the interplay between digital content and physical screen motion is limitless. We feel these possibilities are one of the most exciting parts of this project. 
  • Content
    • The kinetic screens are a canvass to be painted. It is an open and flexible system where many kinds of interactive experiences can be created. These could be advertisements, educational programs, narratives specifically designed for this medium, existing content, or something we haven't imagined yet.
  • Demo Mode
    • It could be interesting to have an MC or guide conduct the shows during demo mode. Were we to go that route it would be possible to make a special interface for the presenter, something gestural perhaps like our earlier work, g-stalt. Using an interface like g-stalt the presenter could control the screens directly through movements of their hands and body.
  • Location
    • Following from the brief, we conceived of this work without considering a specific location. Any number of locations are possible including indoor, outdoor, or mobile. For an outdoor installation there would be the additional cost and difficulty of weatherproofing. Two options for mobile versions follow.
  • Shippable Version
    • The installation could be designed to fit into standard shipping containers for transport by freight. For an installation of a defined size, creating a shippable version would be more expensive than a fixed-location version as it would require more design and fabrication work. 
  • Mobile Version
    • If mobility were paramount, we think it would be possible to build the system onto a truck trailer so that it can be moved easily and deployed in a few hours. Many carnival rides are built this way, here are some examples from a quick google search: Pharaoh's Fury and Zipper. We have not considered this option in detail yet and would need to do further work before presenting actionable options.
  • Miscellaneous Other Interactions
    • Cameras to show the audience on the screen or allow the installation to respond to the motions of the crowd.
    • Microphones to make it react to sound.
    • Augmented Reality content to blend the graphics and environment.
    • etc.