In early 2018 we received an enquiry from retail display company PLB who wanted to give their client Samsung something much more than just printed graphics. The product was their new flagship smartphone Galaxy S9 handset which they wanted to be demonstrated in a far more exciting way than the typical mobile phone shop display. This would be a completely bespoke project, creating an interactive retail display for the smartphones, and Event Projection’s flexible and dynamic team were the perfect match in bringing this vision to life.
The idea was to use interactive projection mapping in retail store display. This would showcase the ways in which the phone and Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant, could become part of their customers’ everyday lives. Our brief was to create and project two stories. The first shows a young professional’s busy day and how she used her phone to aid her through buying a coffee, through to workday meetings, highlighting the benefits of the translation app. The second shows a family’s day out and demonstrates additional voice activated features such as the sat-nav and the camera.
Our first task was to create the content. Producing animated content for a project like this is really no different than creating a cartoon. It involves steps such as shaping the narrative, story boarding and styling, including the character design. We needed to go through these steps before any animation could begin. Like most of our projects, this presented its own unique design challenges.
The technical side of the project was to design the system used to playback the content. This involved careful consideration of available projectors to ensure their suitability and integrate them into the design of the table. Factors such as brightness and lens throw were as essential as physical size and reliability over time.
It was in an early meeting that our Technical Manager Steve suggested he was confident we could produce the necessary hardware and software to allow us to utilise the phone itself as part of the story. The phone would sit in the centre of a projection table that would make up the interactive retail display unit. This would be utilised to display additional video in sync on its screen and audio through its speakers. This was no simple task and as the project evolved, so did our technical requirements. Factors such as increased installation duration demanded a solution as robust as possible. Industry standard media players designed for 24/7 use were chosen. But, to enable the sync and integration of capacitive buttons, we had to design and produce a custom circuit interface to work with them. We also need to write a custom app for the phones to enable the playback of their content which was triggered over WiFi.
In addition to the two animated stories, our client was inspired by a prototype that we had created using capacitive paint. This became a third display on the table and content was created to specifically display features of the phone such as its slo-mo camera, all triggered by pressing a glowing button integrated into the table.
We installed the first interactive retail display over night during the summer at the flagship Carphone Warehouse store in Westfield London. Installation in the Manchester and Portsmouth stores quickly followed. We are looking forward to working with Samsung in 2019 creating updated content for the S10 handset, and rolling out the retail display to further stores.