GE Simulator Shows ‘Ecomagination’ at Work
Just south of the Middle Eastern city of Abu Dhabi, construction crews are busy building a zero-carbon city from scratch. Its name is Masdar City and when it’s done, it will be home to some of the most innovative green technologies on the planet—from wind towers that can drop the desert air in the city by 20 degrees to fields of nearly 90,000 solar panels that will generate energy for the city’s 50,000 residents and 1,500 eco-friendly businesses.
It’s a bold experiment, this green city in the desert. And for GE, the perfect platform for “ecomagination,” the company’s technology brand that focuses on solutions to environmental challenges around the world.
But rather than treat its permanent home in this up-and-coming city like a demo bar for its products, GE transformed its GE ecomagination Centre Masdar City into a digital journey that takes attendees through 11 distinct stories, each showing through interactive and dazzling displays just how unsustainable the world’s current path is—and how GE’s cutting-edge solutions might help put the region, and the world, on a different path.
To bring it all to life, GE created the Madinati City Simulator, a fictional city of five million people set inside a 52-square-foot interactive table that combines an acrylic model 3D city with digital animations running on a massive bed of 16 Clarity Matrix screens. Visitors engage with the city at a series of high definition touch screens running custom Adobe Air Flash applications mounted in front of the Simulator. One attendee sits in the driver’s seat and interacts with the city to show how changes in water, electricity and pollution affect its residents. The real-time results of the model are displayed on edge-blended projections behind the table. One example: visitors can see how their decision to change street lighting in Madinati City to LED would result in a reduction in power from the power stations.
Each scenario visitors investigate causes the entire city to respond giving visitors a real-world feel for how their choices affect everything from future air traffic transportation to lighting challenges to public transportation in the city. Users at a bank of secondary touch screens can participate in multi-user quizzes, designed to engage them in the experience as it progresses.
By making their ecomagination story highly interactive and visitor-driven, GE created an experience where its product benefits could speak for themselves. The Centre took a long and complex list of more than 20 products ranging from oil and gas extraction to electricity generation to transportation and lighting, and gave them a single, integrated storyline where they could be explained in real life terms, and in a way that was fun and engaging.
On the business side, GE is happy to report that it earned large government and corporate contracts right after the opening of the Centre. Looks like they’re seeing green already.