This year at South By Southwest (SXSW) Sony hosted their “WOW Studio” starting the first day of the Interactive festival. In “WOW Studio” exhibit Sony introduced ongoing projects, demos of cutting-edge technologies and its latest prototypes. The exhibits included: Sony’s Initiatives in AI and Robotics, Interactive Tabletop Projector, Ghostly Whisper, Superception “Head Light”, Hero Generator, Acoustic Vessel “Odyssey”, Interactive CUBE, 3D Creator, A(i)R Hockey, VR “Captain Tsubasa” Prototype and a digital Message Board.
Walking into the “WOW Studio” incredible technology experience. My favorite exhibits were A(I)R Hockey, Hero Generator and the Interactive Tabletop Projector. To be honest you would have to be there to see the immense amount of innovative technology throughout the Sony “WOW Studio.” That said below is the description of each exhibit on the “WOW Studio” provided by Sony with descriptions of each exhibit at SXSW 2018.
Experiential WOW Point: Vistors can play with aibo at WOW Studio as well as enjoy a wonderful performance from Xperia Hello!. They also introduced “Sony Innovation Fund,” a corporate venture capital fund, the drone-based enterprise solutions that have been launched by Aerosense Inc., Sony’s joint venture with ZMP Inc. and “New Concept Cart” with the aim of delivering a new transportation experience.
Technical WOW Point: Combining their existing strengths in areas such as image and audio processing, voice recognition, sensors and mechatronics with artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, communications and other elements to offer new proposals, Sony is steadily advancing multiple initiatives in the field of AI x Robotics.
- Interactive Tabletop Projector: Light Up on the Beat
Interactive Tabletop Projector is a technology to create public and interactive AR space. The system recognizes fingers touching a table or floating in air and creates an interactive large screen on the table. And multiple projection units realize 3D interactive projection mapping.
Experiential WOW Point: Your finger becomes a spotlight. When you light up an instrument on the rhythm, it starts playing music.
Technical WOW Point: By recognizing motions and objects, Interactive Tabletop Projector realizes 3D interactive projection mapping. We can create public AR space where multiple guests can have the same experience at once.
- Ghostly Whisper: Get Your Senses Ready
Sony collaborated with Universal Creative, the division within Universal Parks & Resorts that designs and creates theme park attractions and experiences around the world, to create this conceptual haunted experience inspired by UP&R’s Halloween Horror Nights events. It immerses participants in a series of simulated paranormal events designed to stimulate the senses. The experience combines Universal Creative’s storytelling expertise with audio technology that lets guests feel as if they have been enveloped by sound, and haptic technology that simulates the feeling of a touch on the skin by an unearthly entity.
Technical WOW Point: Sony’s unique suite of audio technology combined with newly designed multi-channel speakers and specially developed software that enables creators to simulate popping, moving, and partitioning sounds in one space using the intuitive software application. Sonic Surf VR was named after intuitive association of new acoustic experience, and customers can enjoy virtual reality experience of sound.
Superception (Super + perception) is a research framework that uses computer technologies to intervene in the process of human perception and to connect multiple senses together in order to alter and expand the limits of perception. The exhibit featured the “Head Light” system, which sees the visitor exploring the sensory world of a non-human species through personal projection mapping. An introduction to Superception: https://www.sonycsl.co.jp/tokyo/3918/.
Experiential WOW Point: At the SXSW exhibition, guests got to wear a Head Light system in order to experience the sensory world of bats, mosquitoes, and other non-human species. Guests could also experience the potential of augmented sensation through personal projection mapping.
Technical WOW Point: Wearable projection mixed reality technology: The projector is wearable and images are projected in a wide viewing angle. Instead of simply displaying information, the projection from Head Light affects human sensation to expand your sensory world.
- Hero Generator: Enjoy Our Free-Viewpoint Visual Studio
Participants can experience Sony’s unique Free-Viewpoint Visual Technology in a space equipped with multiple cameras set up in 360 degrees around them. With this technology, images of the spaces between cameras are automatically synthesized, creating a moving 3D avatar of each visitor that can be viewed from all directions. During SXSW, guests were able to create avatars of themselves and star as the protagonist of their own short film. These movies can be rendered and shared to a smartphone for later viewing.
Experiential WOW Point: Guests could star in their original short film with high realistic sensation camera angle, and able to preview through Sony events application. Take this opportunity to star in your own movie and enjoy new Free-Viewpoint Visual expression.
Technical WOW Point: With 360 surrounded by multiple cameras, guests enjoy Sony’s original Free-Viewpoint Visual Technology of 3D modeling motion capture. Shooted 3D model is available to be rendered and see from any angle.
- Acoustic Vessel “Odyssey”: Unforgettable ‘Spatial Audio’ Voyage
The Odyssey is spaceship that travels through space via a universe of sound. By setting foot in the ship, you feel as though you have warped through space in an instant and are enveloped by sounds reminiscent of the city, the forest, moving through water, and moving through outer space with shooting stars.
Experiential WOW Point: Acoustic Vessel “Odyssey” allows visitors to immerse themselves in music, enabled by a one-of-a-kind combination of music and Sony’s spatial audio technology that creates a space where sounds are free to move around. Using 576 speakers controlled by Sony’s sound field synthesis technology, visitors will be taken on an unforgettable audio voyage through time and space. Enveloped in a dynamic wave of sound choreographed by sound artist Evala, guests will undertake an epic journey spanning cityscapes and lush forests, the depths of the ocean, and even the outer reaches of the solar system. The audio is accompanied by a pioneering light installation created by digital media artists Kimchi and Chips.
Technical WOW Point: Sound field synthesis technology developed by Sony over many years is used to control the sound fields emitted from 576 speakers (at this exhibition). The sounds fluttering in the air can be felt, close and far, which enables awareness for the size of each sound source. The software instantaneously performs an enormous number of calculations in order to control the sound fields via software. This makes it possible to handle a large number of sound sources and large-scale channels. Sony also developed special speakers and amplifiers for sound field synthesis. This achieves high on-site reproduction accuracy and quality. The Sonic Surf VR will be available from June 2018.
- Interactive CUBE: Invigorate Your Senses
Interactive CUBE is an entertainment experience that invigorates the senses by incorporating projected images, sounds, lights, and vibrations onto a giant cube. By forming two screens, one of which is transparent, into the shape of a cube and projecting images onto them, guests inside the cube will feel as if the images are floating in midair. Multiple cubes were set up and by changing layouts periodically, visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of interactive games. Furthermore, through a collaboration with the creative agency SIX, messages in music will be visualized, for a DJ play through words.
Experiential WOW Point: A variety of contents are projected onto two giant cubes. Guests were able to use their whole body to enjoy this experience, controlling the direction in which the cube rolls and feeling vibrations from the floor each time that the cube jumps. Another feature allows users to sit beneath a giant cherry tree as a shower of cherry blossoms falls around them.
Technical WOW Point: A transparent screen created an environment with a floating sensation, and Sony’s unique haptics technology will leverage the projected images to seem more realistic.
- 3D Creator: Create Your 3D Headshot
Sony Mobile’s 3D Creator application on Xperia™ smartphones brings the thrill of 3D creation to each visitor. A robotic arm wielding an Xperia XZ1 creates a complete 3D model of the guest’s head. Guests will receive a video they can view and share on their smartphones to commemorate the experience. The video can also be viewed from Sony’s Event app.
Experiential WOW Point: A robotic arm wielding an Xperia™ XZ1 scan your head and create original 3D data. Guests were able to play with Sony’s original interactive game which starring created 3D character. Guests also got to preview data from Sony events application as well.
Technical WOW Point: “3D creator” is the latest Xperia™ smartphone’s camera application. With Sony’s original algorithm, it is available to scan face or any object to create original 3D data.
- A(i)R Hockey: Enjoy a New AR Game
Sony’s new AR (Augmented Reality) hockey game involves 3 players who each choose their team color of red, blue, or green. Sony’s high-speed vision sensors (IMX382) tracked the puck and paddles on a real-time basis, and the unique predictive algorithms enabled projections based on movement.
Experiential WOW Point: This exhibit is an AR hockey game that tracks the puck and paddle on a real-time basis, and projects various images based on the players’ movements.
Technical WOW Point: This innovative experience was created by combining Sony’s unique high-speed vision sensors (IMX382) that tracks objects at 1,000 frames-per-second, a unique predictive algorithm, and haptics technology.
- VR “Captain Tsubasa” Prototype: Boost Your Shoots, Be a Score Hero
This is a new type of interactive VR soccer, developed by Sony Music Communications Inc. and a VR content producer Hashilus. Guests were able to become a legendary striker and play a penalty kick shootout. If guests kicked the ball at the right timing, it will unleash a strike that travels up to 50 times faster than normal. Visitors also enjoyed outsmarting the goalie in this ultimate soccer experience, only made possible by utilizing VR technologies.
Experiential WOW Point: A collaboration with Captain Tsubasa, the world-famous soccer animation. Guests became a striker and did a penalty kick shootout with the legendary goalie, Genzo Wakabayashi.
Technical WOW Point: A prototype of an innovative interactive VR soccer attraction that was jointly developed by Sony Music Communications Inc. and the VR content producer Hashilus. Although soccer VR has been a difficult theme, the prototype was realized through unique ideas.
- Message Board: Share your experience on digital message board
Inside the WOW studio, there will be multiple “Xperia Touch” devices, where guests will be able to write comments and draw images onto a projected screen, they will also get the chance to see these again on the big screen by the exit. Xperia Touch turns any surface into a touch screen, and festival goers will get the chance to experience the fun interaction that can be enjoyed.
Experiential WOW Point: All messages will be gathered and shown on the digital message board by the exit.
Technical WOW Point: A portable ultra-short throw projector installed with Android is combined with touch-sensing technology to turn any surface into a touch screen. Illustrations and comments written by guests were collected onto a server to create a giant digital message board.
The Sony “WOW Studio” was one of the highlights for me personally during SXSW Interactive. Similar to their “WOW Factory” last year during SXSW 2017 my mind was blown with all the innovative technology you are immersed in as soon as you enter.