In March 2017, Sony made its way to Austin, TX (USA), to exhibit The WOW Factory at the 2017 edition of SXSW (South by Southwest)
—the world's largest creative business festival. The Sony design team had a big hand in the effort,
designing four next-generation experiences and producing the communication design for the new The WOW Factory concept as a whole.
What really separates SXSW from other business festivals is its genre-bending fusion of entertainment—music and film, especially—and digital technology. Heading into that unique environment, Sony decided to showcase a selection of prototypes that would resonate with that crossover mentality and give people a peek at the company's challenge for the future. Why did Sony want to pull back the curtain and open up the pipeline for all to see? It's all part of the “Method of Designing Experience Values,” the company's current approach to design.
“Openness” is the core concept at the heart of the method. By developing the “future experiences” so central to its everyday efforts in an open fashion and making the experiences accessible to far-reaching audiences in open environments, Sony can draw from a deep, rich reservoir of valuable feedback in designing tomorrow's experience values.
With virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) quickly gaining traction as big potential business drivers, the need for new formats in the entertainment sector and professional spheres is obvious. Artificial intelligence (AI), agents, and robotics, meanwhile, are making their way into domestic life, just one of the myriad new environments where the technologies are finding applications. As the tides in the seas of business and technology continue to shift, Sony recognizes the changing nature of design: It doesn't only revolve around physical value anymore—now, experience value is the defining element.
When you work with a design methodology that puts the focus on “experience,” you have to develop the necessary technology and the necessary design in a parallel fashion—both components shape each other. By leveraging Sony's technological assets, reaping the benefits of open communities, and employing rapid prototyping techniques, designers breathe life into captivating experiences and craft the emotional values of enjoyment, happiness, and wonder.
Sony knows full well that design—what design embodies, what designers do, and what areas designers inhabit
—needs to change. At SXSW 2017, Sony captured that forward-looking attitude in its “factory” for creating the “wonders of the future.”
We designed an interactive space that detects the user's motion (on the system's chair and stationary bike) and uses that input to modify the high-resolution video and CG on the dome screen in a seamless, interactive fashion. The result is an entirely new experience, one that even lets users share the immersive environment with family and friends.
With ultra-short-throw projectors projecting imagery on four walls, Warp Square delivers compelling experiences by transforming the entire room into an immersive space. For the SXSW showcase, we designed four sets of interactive content that enabled multiple users to share their mixed-reality experiences simultaneously.
The design effort for the Motion Sonic Project centered on creating an interactive device, a gateway to two new sound experiences
—transforming bodily movements into sound and controlling sound with bodily movements.
“Any Surface,” Sony's UI concept, is an intuitive framework that renders a viable interface out of whatever the user is looking at. The “Magical Music on Any Surface” portion of the exhibit connected multiple Xperia™ Touch devices into a piano-drum interface that offered users a platform for new, imagination-rich experiences.
In forming the spatial and graphic designs for The WOW Factory, we infused the overall look and feel with Sony's multifaceted, boundary-transcending identity: a sense of exciting potential, highlighting Sony's creativity and technology, and an open corporate mindset, underlining Sony's drive to connect with the rest of the creative community at SXSW.