The Gateway

Smithsonian Networks

Discover, sample, and program the Smithsonian’s unique content through a multiuser table and custom display wall.

Potion partnered with the Smithsonian, the country’s leading cultural biographer and its media counterpart, to launch a one-of-a-kind interactive table and programmable LED wall in their original 19th century headquarters.  Nicknamed “the Castle” because of its distinct Norman architecture, the building makes for a unique icon on the national mall and a dramatic arrival hall to the Institution’s millions of annual visitors from around the world.  The Smithsonian Channel wanted to boldly engage those visitors with the full breadth of their unique content in a manner befitting the dramatic location. Together, Potion and the channel created “The Gateway,” a multi-user interactive table and massive custom LED wall, structurally built into the building’s dramatic entry hall. With over 320 sq ft of display area spread across 300+ digital tiles, the wall serves as a spectacular canvas for high resolution video on everything from history to the natural world, and allows visitors to literally walk through the content as they enter the hall’s galleries.

Overview

320’ sq ft custom digital display wall

Proximity and touch-based activation

Table allows content programming of the wall

13-user touch table

Credits

  • Potion
    Concept and Design
    Permit and Construction Mangement
    Software Build
  • The Smithsonian Channel
    Video Content
  • D3
    LED Wall
  • Cybertouch
    AV Hardware
  • Electrosonic
    AV Integrator

As users approach the table, motion sensors trigger a chain of pop-up videos, content, and displays, encouraging users to drag and drop videos to their “personal screen.” Tiles generate across the table where up to 12 concurrent users can preview or watch hundreds of videos and even hookup their own headphones. Best of all, the table allows users to “DJ” the wall. From the helm of the table, a single user can select what will play next from the collection on the custom display. To keep things fun for users of all ages, the table periodically converts to a large scale, multi-user game, where users compete by quickly tapping tiles to select the next highlighted category to play on the wall. Finally, the wall can even be utilized for special functions and events as a one-of-a-kind display device for anyone with a computer to plug in.

The project presented unique logistical and technological challenges, particularly while installing the largest permanent LED wall on the Mall. Potion managed the entire process from permits and construction to technology and integration. In an environment typically noted for its 19th century architecture, this 21st century interactive has proven a remarkable success.  In the first month alone, visitors viewed over 29,000 videos on the table and queued over 11,000 videos on the wall—that’s more than two videos every minute. And what’s more, the wall is exposing an entirely new audience to The Smithsonian Channel.

As users approach the table, motion sensors trigger a chain of pop-up videos, content, and displays, encouraging users to drag and drop videos to their “personal screen.” Tiles generate across the table where up to 12 concurrent users can preview or watch hundreds of videos and even hookup their own headphones. Best of all, the table allows users to “DJ” the wall. From the helm of the table, a single user can select what will play next from the collection on the custom display. To keep things fun for users of all ages, the table periodically converts to a large scale, multi-user game, where users compete by quickly tapping tiles to select the next highlighted category to play on the wall. Finally, the wall can even be utilized for special functions and events as a one-of-a-kind display device for anyone with a computer to plug in.

The project presented unique logistical and technological challenges, particularly while installing the largest permanent LED wall on the Mall. Potion managed the entire process from permits and construction to technology and integration. In an environment typically noted for its 19th century architecture, this 21st century interactive has proven a remarkable success.  In the first month alone, visitors viewed over 29,000 videos on the table and queued over 11,000 videos on the wall—that’s more than two videos every minute. And what’s more, the wall is exposing an entirely new audience to The Smithsonian Channel.

Credits

  • Potion
    Concept and Design
    Permit and Construction Mangement
    Software Build
  • The Smithsonian Channel
    Video Content
  • D3
    LED Wall
  • Cybertouch
    AV Hardware
  • Electrosonic
    AV Integrator