wrap your spaces in social media

We live in a time where many people feel trapped by digital screens. With our mobile devices, every new app fights for a precious slice of our attention bandwidth. Out and about, digital signage screams for our attention in every store, bus stop and food outlet. We’re blinded by so much digital clutter, we’ve become immune to digital messaging.

In-person experiences remain an outstanding creative opportunity to envelop guests with branded digital content, but creating effective brand experiences requires a mindset shift beyond simplistic digital signage. Let’s look at a powerful design concept that incorporates social media streams, live data and interactive visuals into the infrastructure that surrounds us.

Ambient communications

Physical places can reveal social media and other content streams through a new design approach called “ambient communications.” Ambient communication systems present creative visual abstractions of real-time data, integrated into architectural spaces via embedded lighting and media displays.

How is this useful?

A large portion of human visual processing is in our peripheral vision, yet most traditional “signage” displays start by targeting a person’s limited focused attention. Architectural-scale visual experiences can convey enormous amounts of data via our peripheral vision, such as through vibrant signature colors, delightful motion graphics, or surprising interactive responses. Ambient communications engages occupants both spatially and visually, without necessarily demanding their focused attention. This eases a person into an experience without having to make a conscious choice upfront. Once in the spatial experience, their natural curiosity may compel them to learn more about what’s going on. The architectural experience resonates social media trends into the real world, compelling local action.

Let’s look at three examples:

Thumbs up for a Cause: Social causes can drive participation goals via ambient communications by depicting accumulation data (social media likes or mentions) with the gradual presence of a signature color filling a space.

Hot or Not: Retailers can depict live online retail activity in bricks and mortar locations via ambient communications by expressing an action rate (customer purchases) by varying the rate of a motion pattern.

Sparkling Service:Hospitality locations can can intuit their service ratings by depicting social proof (reviews and star ratings) as evolving patterns of sparkling light embedded into feature walls.

Let’s chart the three examples presented above, exploring how social data streams can be mapped to ambient media visual modes:

Ambient communications turns a physical place into a portal to the virtual world, giving that space new abilities to reveal and resonate social trends, movements, and cultural transformations. 

Behind the scenes, new control system paradigms must be adapted. Controlling the flow of data inputs, processing it via logic and abstraction systems, and controlling its output to a wide variety of “pixels.” Modern control systems will look like this:

Want more ideas for using creative lighting and digital media technologies in omni-channel strategies? Koerner Design focuses on the creative intersection of architectural placemaking and digital media systems. Check out my blog at lucept.com or come see me present “Wrap Your Spaces in Social Media” at either the Smart Building Conference in Amsterdam or the Surface Design Show in London.