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Digital > 14.6 Digital Miscellaneous

Interactive Sphere

by iart interactive ag

In order to communicate its complex scientific themes attractively and understandably for laymen as well as for specialists, CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland) commissioned us to create a multimedia exhibition in its ‘Globe of Science and Innovation’ in Geneva.

The result was the dark, seemingly boundless exhibition ‘Universe of Particles’ with its shining spheres, which prove on closer examination to be show cases, interactive stations or seats. Carrying on from the conventional pictorial representation of atoms, particles or planets, all objects in the exhibition are round or spherical: the show cases, the seats with audio information, the interactive stations, the projectors’ cases and the centrally placed platform, which functions as a projection area. Intervallic, the whole space and its installations are part of an overall multimedia show for some minutes. The remaining time, the installations are ready to be explored by visitors interactively. Since its opening in July 2010 the exhibition provides an arena for the interactive staging of complex scientific theories, experiments and research tools in order to make them comprehensible for different audiences. Three different kinds of interactive spheres facilitate simple, playful access to the exhibition’s content. One of them is the innovative track ball interface ?Interactive Sphere?.

Interactive Sphere
The ‘Interactive Sphere’ was designed as one part of the multimedia exhibition ‘Universe of Particles’ to make globally relevant and complex scientific themes of the research centre CERN in Geneva comprehensible for different audiences. It plays a narrative role within the scenography, and it is an interactive installation which enables visitors to access globally relevant facts (such as worldwide cooperation initiatives and CERN’s history from 1949 to 2010) intuitively, just by rolling the globe in whichever direction.

The sphere itself is placed on three small spheres (not visible to the visitor) within a vessel to enable its flexible rotation. Superordinate themes can be chosen systematically by touch areas placed along the upper edge of the vessel. According to the chosen theme, the surface of the sphere changes its content and visual appearance. The surface design is created with images projected from above. It changes according to the movement of the sphere, giving the impression of a complete globe, e.g. it takes on the appearance of Earth. Relating information appears in form of pictures or texts when – by rotating the sphere – the virtual curser is moved to certain points of the globe, e.g. to towns or countries. In short, the installation could be described as a huge trackball and an interface in one. The interaction is very simple and obvious to every visitor. Also the haptical appearance of the sphere was especially developed and guarantees an outstanding experience for the user. Due to the innovative interaction and varying levels of complexity, children and adults, laymen and experts are offered direct, playfully intuitive access to the complex themes.

Additionally, 3D images and animations could be projected onto the surface to create an illusionary effect of spatially arranged objects inside the sphere, which we realised with another interactive installation for the same exhibition.

  • Creative Directors Valentin Spiess, Steffen Blunk (both iart interactive ag)
  • Art Directors Prof. Uwe R. Brückner, Matt Schwab (both ATELIER BRÜCKNER)
  • Designers Selina Meury, Christian Becker (both iart interactive ag)
  • Illustrators
  • Photographers
  • Editors
  • Copywriters
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