Natural History Museum

Echolocation
Digital Experience

An artistic installation that entertained, informed and… turned people into whales.

The Challenge

'Whales: Beneath the Surface' was a blockbuster exhibition held at London's Natural History Museum. At the centre of this the museum needed a truly innovative showcase experience that would capture the public's imagination. Even more of a challenge however, it also had to communicate how whales hunt using it's unique, invisible, and audio technique of Echolocation – a sonar-like sound-vision which enables them to 'see' by emitting audio bursts that bounces back when it strikes prey.

Services

Experiential
Interactive
Game design
Gesture

“Captivating to watch but even better to participate, this multi-sensory and evocative installation created an entertaining and learning experience like no other.”

The Solution

So how can we communicate something so abstract that people can neither see nor touch? By creating an installation piece that encouraged visitors to become the whales themselves… Using scientific data and game-like mechanics, the ethereal experience avoids all typical inputs (buttons, touchscreens, levers, headsets etc.) and instead the players very own position and movements around the space mimics the behaviour of the whales. Guided by overhead sensors, reactive floor lighting, projections and echoes, players were challenged to roam around in the immersive 'underwater' space. Designed as a single or group experience, players competed to be the first to hunt down the invisible prey.

Outcomes

Captivating to watch but even better to participate, this multi-sensory and evocative installation created an entertaining and learning experience like no other. Created with accessibility and visitor habits in mind, the physical-digital environment became one of the most talked about experiences at the exhibition, which went on to gaining a five star rating from the Londonist amongst other recognitions during its life span. A genuinely pioneering piece of digital thinking and execution that re-imagined the way museums approach visitor participation and engagement.

"The immersive echolocation experience one of the must-see experiences."
Mummy in the City

"The major excitement of the exhibition was the interactive game that tests your ability to catch prey."
Kids in Museums