In 2016, Nike created a brand activation in Manila that temporarily erected a 200-meter “figure 8” running track the size of city block. The “stadium” featured a running track lined with LED screens, where up to 30 runners at a time were invited to engage in a virtual race against avatars of themselves, monitored via RFID tags for each runner.
The project was conceived by the marketing agency BBH Singapore. It was produced by the experiential marketing agency Jack Morton. The creative and tech in the project was supported by Tokyo-based Party New York and Birdman Tokyo. The installation supposedly took 80,000 man-hours of work. It has since won numerous marketing industry awards.
According to David Webster of BBH:
…as part of their registration [the runners] created their own Avatar which was assigned to a specific RFID tag. The runner would then run their lap, with the lap time recorded on their RFID tag. The Avatar would meet the runner on the start of their second lap and would run at the speed of the prior lap. The faster they ran, the faster the avatars did. The longer they ran, the bigger their Avatar became – telling them how many laps they’ve ran.
I highlight this project because it is an excellent example of interactivity on an architectural scale (even an urban scale) with real purpose and experiential design – in this case, training athletes – rather than just dumb “me and my shadow” effects for the blind sake of interactivity.