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National Geographic is at the forefront of immersive entertainment

Have you ever wanted to discover the best coral reefs for snorkeling, but fear of the ocean waves stopped you? Or have you struggled with wanting to teach your children about underwater creatures, but you don’t necessarily support animals in captivity? Well, now you have the opportunity to experience the ocean digitally. National Geographic has just launched a first of its kind immersive ocean floor experience right in the heart of New York City in Times Square.

Consumers want to be wowed these days and are easily bored by traditional entertainment so National Geographic and SPE Partners have stepped up to create Ocean Odyssey. They worked together with artists, scientists and photographers to produce new ground-breaking technology. The experience transports you from 10 different rooms, taking audiences through the South Pacific Ocean all the way to the West coast of North America. Everything in this 60,000 square-foot space was carefully curated and taken from observing nature. The coral reef was created by a special process called photogrammetry, where the reefs on Solomon Islands were captured with more than 1,300 still images. This new form of entertainment allows the audience to interact and learn about the oceans of the world, as if underwater themselves, with seal mazes, bioluminescent floors and an underwater Humbolt squid adventure, to name a few.

After the experience, guests are transported into a room filled with informative quotes, games and challenges. It was quite ingenious the way eco-friendly living and sustainability was introduced here, subtle but yet effective through touch screens, holograms, photo ops and interactive games. Kids were overheard telling their parents they had no idea that everyday items such as sunscreen, plastic and cleaning products could have such an effect on the ocean and wanted to help pledge to save the oceans (which is something they could do at the end of the exhibit).

I spoke to Lisa Truitt who is the CCO of SPE Partners along with Shannon Hebert-head of marketing and sales, both pioneers in making this all come together. It was amazing to see how endless eco and sustainable initiatives were created within the design for this project. Details you wouldn’t even realize first hand, such as all the benches throughout the exhibit crafted out of recycled ocean plastics, plastic covers removed on toys sold in the gift shop, to the refillable water bottle stations and recycled flip-flop art for sale. Overall the exhibition’s goal was to provide a family-friendly, enjoyable experience but with the hope that each visitor takes away that little something extra, maybe a commitment to help make the oceans a better place. What a great initiative!

Look out for more of these experiences popping up in other cities around the world with about a dozen or so already in the works.

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