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Interactive Car Theatre - Object Theater

Page history last edited by Scott Sayre 10 years, 6 months ago

Project Title: Interactive Car Theatre 

Museum/ Institution: The Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne (Museum History Overview PDF - SMT_History_en_2010.pdf)  

Media Category: Immersives/Theaters 

Program Created: Opened - June, 2009 

Program URL (if available): http://www.verkehrshaus.ch/en/ 


Project Image(s) and/or Video

Media Source(s)/Credit(s):
Photo and video produced by Scott Sayre, 2010, Creative Commons - non-commercial use only


Program Description: (150-250 words)

The Interactive Auto Theater is a large-scale interactive environment displaying over 50 full-size Swiss-made or influenced vehicles.  The theater provides a fully automated, timed presentation in game-show like format.  When the presentation starts a video projected virtual host welcomes the visitors in the audience and asks then to vote on a common language.  Audience members vote by pressing large red buttons mounted on the railings in front of them.


The program starts by randomly selecting an unusual item/vehicle to start the presentation with.  The vehicle is placed in the center of the theater and computerized lights highlight it while a short video documentary is projected on the host screen.  The host then presents the audience with a menu of other vehicles they might like to learn more about and they are asked to vote on their favorite.  A large robotic lift then jumps into action and carefully selects the "winning" vehicle off a football-field-size rack and places in on a computerized turntable in front of the audience. The virtual host then proceeds to tell the audience about the history of the selected vehicle with the use of computerized lighting and supplementary video footage.  This process is repeated twice.  The program then comes to a close as the host thanks them for their participation. 


Firsthand or secondary review/critique: (150-250 words) 

I was fortunate enough to see this program first-hand during a recent trip to Switzerland.  The mere scale and technical complexity of this program is impressive in its own right.  However, I found the most engaging part of the program its sense of both personality and personalization. Even though the program is completely automated, the audience members feel that they they are a part of the presentation through both the voting as well as the scripting of the host and the interwoven video vignettes.  The computerized spot lights as well as camera flashes add an element of an important event or unveiling. The changing nature of the presentation makes it intriguing enough to consider sticking around for the next "show."


The most obvious downside of this program is the sheer cost of producing and maintaining such a sophisticated exhibit.  The exhibit was only a year old when I saw it and it still felt new both in content and operation.   It will be interesting to see how it holds up over time.  The vehicles will always remain interesting, but the media that surrounds them will most likely date itself.  That said, the museum has close to 1 million visitors per year, so maybe they will get their money's worth in a relatively short period of history.


Technologies incorporated:

Video projection, surround sound audio , robotics, computerized lighting, random access computer program 


Internally or externally produced:

This program was most likely externally produced with some or all of the subject matter being written by museum staff.


Entry Contributor and Date: Scott Sayre, 1/21/2011


Related projects: none known 


NOTE: Be sure to add the following tags to your completed entry using the tag function.

1) Class year entry added (eg. 2012)
2) Category of entry (Audio Tours, Electronic Signage and Wayfinding, Handheld/Mobile Multimedia, Hybrid/Mixed Media, mmersives/Theaters, Interactive Surfaces, Video Programs)
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