SEEN & NOTED: SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Located in the lobby of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) headquarters, a massive interactive, high-resolution, curved video wall has gone live providing education and information to the utilities' daily visitors. The SFPUC is a public agency charged with delivering fresh drinking water, wastewater services, hydroelectric and solar power to the city of San Francisco.
SFPUC's video wall is an an interactive platform that was developed through a collaboration between the SFPUC, Obscura Digital, the San Francisco Arts Commission and KMD Architects. The SFPUC Digital Arts Wall is a seamless curved digital canvas that measures 4-feet high and spans 58-feet in length with a native resolution of 62 million pixels. The video wall uses 160 Christie MicroTiles, a modular display system that has become popular with architects, to display high‐resolution data and graphic visualizations which include an unfolding history of the SFPUC, real-time news data and ambient music.
Obscura Digital designed and engineered four customized interactive experiences with motion responsive visuals and sound effects that track the movement of people as they interact with the space. The four programs include: Snowfall to Outfall, Media Stream, Dashboard Mode, and an Interactive Art Mode. Each presentation provides an educational and entertaining platform for SFPUC employees and visitors to learn more about the history, art, current issues and goals of the SFPUC.
Illustrating the importance of the entire water system, and the SFPUC’s place within it, is a diorama created by a local artist depicting the key elements of the city’s water system. Through an agreement with the San Francisco Arts Commission, artwork done by local artists is displayed on a revolving basis, turning the display wall into a constantly changing digital canvas.
“We needed to create something that would be beautiful and stand up over time in terms of resolution and technology, and also create something that could be updated easily by the SFPUC,” said Nathan Houchin, technical director, Obscura Digital. “So we created a custom content management program for them where they can upload new information very effectively and efficiently via their communications department.”
“The city of San Francisco is lucky to have such clean and healthy drinking water,” added Houchin, “The SFPUC does a good job of being stewards of this vital system that’s so important to the vitality of the Bay Area and the panorama shows all the types of infrastructure that are necessary to make this sort of water system work. Water doesn’t come from a tap first; this (MicroTiles) display helps people make that connection.”
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