Imagine customers walking into your showroom booth. No leaflet, no boring flyers and no dull video playing on a lame screen. None of that at your booth. Instead, your customers, riveted, have their eyes on the wall, using their hands to touch it, triggering various colorful animations and interactive effects. They discover your product and services in a unique and engaging way which will have them talking about you for a long time. Congratulations, your interactive wall is the most catchy marketing tool of the whole showroom!
Interactive walls, and interactive surfaces in general, provide a great way to add that little extra to your marketing endeavors. Images are displayed or otherwise projected on a surface on which your customers can also interact by directly touching the surface. They have a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from the simple animated touch wall which I described in the opening paragraph, to games and complex tailor-made applications which showcase your products and can give your brand that extra image boost.
An interactive wall, in effect, provides this wow effect which can make you shine when compared with the dull and Déjà vu marketing approaches of your competitors. A few years ago, cost and feasibility might have been an obstacle, but nowadays with increasingly accessible technology, you basically can let your imagination go wild in terms of what can be done.
Where to start
So how do you go about setting one up? Well, before you embark on your next interactive wall journey, it makes sense to stop and ask yourself what it would actually take to put such a system on its two feet. You will, of course, first need the appropriate hardware. And for a touch wall you need a computer as well as a means of projection and of detecting touch input.
Your first easy and cheaper go-to option would be a small, compact and cheap computer such as the Intel NUC series as well as a camera combined with a standard projector. Cameras such as the Microsoft Kinect 2.0 not only provide you with a visual stream but also 3D-depth information, all of which you can combine with hand and gesture tracking or other computer vision software to provide a custom interactive experience.
Such a setup might work just fine for simple cases but you should be prepared to more spend time and effort for more sophisticated software solutions as your requirements get more and more complex.
A slightly fancier alternative
Another option would be to go for dedicated hardware and this might actually save you quite a bit of sweat. You might want to check out a projector which comes with an infrared sensor for the touch detection. In my experience, this technology provides very good and accurate results.
There are, in fact, many products out there which pack several of the interaction features you might need in one nice bundle. A wide range of solutions exist ranging from projectors with integrated touch detection capabilities, as well as more exotic solutions like interactive, flat, table-like displays. The latter for example has integrated object detection capabilities which enable you to recognize when objects have been placed on the surface.
How to bring it all together – the software part
Getting the hardware requirements of your project nailed down is, however, only half of the story. To provide the desired end effect, you will also need good software which is up to par with the quality you want to deliver to your customers. If you want something simple such as a catchy game or wall painting application, then solutions such as LumoPlay and LuminVision will have you covered.
If your requirements are more specific, you might consider using frameworks such as game and graphics engines which are suitable for media applications. Frameworks like Unity for example, offer a wide range of possibilities and provide you with the means to develop an application which is tailor-made for your needs with just a few clicks (if you know your way around Unity, that is). You can, of course, also look into more general purposed frameworks such as Qt. or the .NET platform which might offer more flexibility in the long run, but which might initially require more time and effort to set up.
Interactive wall – the answer to all your prayers?
Ultimately, it all comes down to your particular needs. Is an interactive surface the right thing for your business when it comes to the financial aspect of things? Should you develop the application yourself, or have it built? What hardware makes more sense in your particular case? Can you combine interactive surface technologies with augmented reality and other cutting edge technologies and stand out even more from the crowd?
While I know there might be many questions left unanswered, I hope I could give you a quick whirlwind tour of interactive surfaces, their uses and applications as well as an overview of some of the many ways you can go about implementing your particular setup.
If I got you interested inn the exciting applications of interactive wall and surface technology, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to invite you to our next workshop where you can experience the wonders of a custom interactive wall with your own eyes. Our team of experts will gladly be there to guide you.
I would love to hear your opinion on the matter, so please feel free to leave a comment on our social media platforms or drop us an email.