StoriesSCIENCE CENTRE, SINGAPORE

Science centre explores with WATCHOUT

Singapore's Science Centre has launched a fully digital exhibition hall, a virtual aquarium with changeable environments. The new E3 installation, or E-mmersive Experiential Environments, lets visitors explore the concepts of virtual reality and immersion through a huge, digitally-projected environment and interactive exhibits. The ambitious project, which also examines different teaching-learning methods, was completed in just seven weeks, and is the brainchild of the Science Centre Singapore and Singapore-based Digimagic Communications.

The E3 exhibit at Science Center Singapore features six 7.5m by 14m high full-wall projections, with a freestanding 6m by 9 meter projection-mapped cube in the centre of the hall. Visitors enter the environment and are immediately enveloped by this new world – which they can also influence and explore through interactive elements such as track ball, leap motion, an RFID rotary table, and Oculus Rift. Dataton's WATCHOUT multi-display system is used to create the seamless imagery and cube mapping powered by 29 Panasonic Laser Projectors, plus show control.

“WATCHOUT is the main system used for the whole setup/project,” explains Donald Lim, Digimagic, content creators and creative/digital consultants for the exhibit. “We created layers and layers of interactive that are live captures with backgrounds chromakeyed out so that they appear seamlessly integrated within the background of the entire animated scene. Some of the interactive stations control WATCHOUT inputs and auxiliary timelines as visitors interact with them. An additional master control system was installed to schedule and automate the daily operations of the whole exhibition.”

A new concept for the Science Centre Singapore, E3 called for collaboration from several companies and technologies. Exhibit builder SPACE logic and Digimagic worked closely with the client in terms of construction, digital and creative direction. Ars Electronica integrated its 3D theatrical experience within the cube mountain, known as Deep Space theatre. The Science Centre Singapore also brought in Somniac’s Birdly adding a nice touch to the entire virtual reality experience, in addition to the Oculus Rift.

Science Centre Singapore has been both pleased and inspired by the audience reaction to the E3 exhibit. Visitors across the board have been keen to try the Oculus Rift and virtual reality station. Adults are captivated by the cube mountain projection-mapping show, headlined: “What is real and what is not?” Younger visitors especially enjoy being able to interact with more than one player, as well as seeing the instant effects on the wall projection area. Among the most popular stations are the track ball which lets the player roll a heavy boulder, and leap motion where visitors control a school of fish.

“We introduce concepts of sensory interaction in the virtual world,” says Donald Lim, Digimagic. “The exhibition seeks to give visitors a sense of immersion, and its potential, transporting them anywhere.

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