We’ve all had dreams about flying above a city, zooming past skyscrapers, peering into windows and whooshing past the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians. In six cities around the world, that’s not a dream. That’s a reality, courtesy of needle-sharp, pixel-perfect interactive displays at welcome centers created by Stimulant, a San Francisco–based design studio. High above Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, visitors can look out at the city below while interacting with enormous high-definition screens that turn the landscape into a dreamscape in what Stimulant founder and CEO Darren David calls “smart spaces.”
Instead of merely setting a scene, Stimulant’s interactive screens personalize your view of a cityscape. Visitors use the interaction built into the screens to tap, pinch and zoom into a scene. “[They] become a curator of the experience. They take control, tell their own stories and narrate,” David says.
For Stimulant, “the hero is the view,” David says. The idea is not simply to mirror what you see from the 60th floor, but also to educate. Using motion-sensing technology, Stimulant’s displays can sense when a visitor approaches and cue icons that spotlight points of interest. Touch an icon and up pops a photo revealing additional information.
In Seattle’s Space Needle, Stimulant goes one better, turning the display into a portal. There, visitors can participate in a waking dream, zooming in and out of the landscape to magically teleport themselves into an entirely different place. Through built-in hotspots on the display, viewers zoom from a bird’s-eye view of the city to the interior of the Seattle Aquarium, and from the aquarium to a fish tank, where they are seemingly swimming with a virtual octopus. Another hotspot links to CenturyLink Field, the home stadium of the Seattle Sounders FC. Visitors can tour the locker room, join
a huddle and see a winning soccer goal from inside the net in a you-are-there experience. This magical combination of delight, superpowers and high tech would delight even Harry Potter.