7thSense at Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
7thSense, the specialist in AV media serving for visitor attractions, 3D theatres, planetariums, and digital signage, has supplied four of its Delta media servers to the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago for the new Giant Heart within the exhibit YOU! The Experience, which opened October.
The project imposed a unique set of technological demands, which obliged 7thSense to develop and customize Delta in very specific ways.
The 15,000-square-foot exhibit provides the opportunity to explore and optimize your personal health. The 13'-tall Giant Heart is a focal point, allowing guests to see different interior and exterior views of this virtual organ. (It can even beat in time with guest's own pulse.)
A major aspect of the project was the steel "XURF" developed by Milgo/Lalvani and created by custom fabricator of architectural metal, MILGO/BUFKIN, based in Brooklyn, New York. The strategy for the design and production of the heart was conceived by Tom Hennes, principal of the New York-based firm Thinc Design, which was also responsible for the overall exhibit design. AV systems integration was carried out by BBI, Inc. Computer-generated 3-D animated media for the heart was produced by scientific animation specialist firm XVIVO.
Across the front of the heart is a large steel surface with a seamless moving image projected onto it by two F12 and three F22 high-resolution projectors from Norway's projectiondesign. Behind the surface, and invisible in normal operation, is a two-channel rear-projection screen, also powered by projectiondesign F22 projectors, which can show the internal workings of the human heart. A soft, central image mask within the external projection surface can be faded up to make the internal rear-projection visible.
Ian Macpherson, co-founder and director at 7thSense, says, "For this project, we used four Delta servers configured in mesh mode, into which a custom 3-D mesh and movie texture from XVIVO, is read, and can be placed in 3-D space, exactly where the physical mesh is located in the real world. Virtual projectors are placed around the mesh where the real projectors are located, and the resultant output from the multiple PC cluster is geometrically matched to the real world, so that little additional distortion correction is required. The Delta outputs are soft-edge blended to bring the projected images into a single, seamless image."
One of four different movies for the external projection surface can be selected by the guest using a touch screen console programmed by BBI. These are a default general anatomical view, blood vessel highlighting, and a special 10-second infarction movie to show what happens during a heart attack. Complementing these are four additional sequences for the internal rear-projection screen, namely default internal structures, blood flow visualization, valves in operation, and electrical activity.
"Because any of these movies can be selected at any time, we engineered a flexible Sequence Control mechanism which can swap out movies without pausing," explains Macpherson. "Since we are serving a 2200 x 4000 movie from each PC, this is not a simple requirement, but by creating an innovative mechanism of swapping from high-resolution via a low-resolution version, we allow the visitor to see a 'smooth fade' from one movie to another, without pausing."
For the real-time mask control that allows guests to fade the external view down at the same time as the internal view fades up, 7thSense added a dynamic transparency feature to Delta. This enables the guests to use a simple slider control to adjust the level of the internal view, relative to the external one.
The synchronization of the heart beat and the guest was made possible by BBI and the Chicago-based leading fitness manufacturer and pulse capture interface company, LifeFitness.
"Delta was designed as a fixed-rate movie server, but for this project we added the ability to send in a simple external control command which alters the playback rate to the incoming demand immediately," says MacPherson. "Not only does this keep the audio in sync with the video, it corrects its pitch in real time so that the sound itself is not altered as the tempo changes."
"7thSense technology is extremely capable to begin with, but for this project the company really went the extra mile -- adding unique features to Delta, assisting with the on-site integration and alignment, and generally making themselves available whenever we needed them," adds Mark Roos, proprietor of BBI. "To pull off a project such as the Giant Heart, with its multiple channels of seamless projection and synchronized Dolby 5.1 surround audio, is never an easy task. Having partners such as 7thSense just helps everything run that little bit smoother."