View to a Thrill: Immersive Visuals Bring NVIDIA Graphics to the Top of LA

by Doug Traill

Stretching out from nearly 1,000 feet above Los Angeles, the views are spectacular at the top of the 70-story-high OUE Skyspace LA, California’s tallest open-air observation deck.

But the thrill of journeying to the top takes hold in an immersive experience 16 stories down, on the 54th floor of the iconic US Bank Tower in downtown LA, where visitors transfer between elevator banks.

It’s there that Stimulant, a San Francisco design firm specializing in smart spaces, has created three immersive experiences using NVIDIA graphics technology that are at once exciting, suspenseful and purposeful.

The highlight is the 360 Landscape Experience, a 50-by-30-foot space with nine projectors presenting a 3D model of the topography of LA. Spinning gems hovering on the landscape represent dozens of popular points of interest, such as LAX, Disneyland and Wilshire Blvd.

The room carefully tracks the movement of each visitor, who can interact with the onscreen content simply by walking through the space. For the topographic map to display seamlessly, all nine projectors must be perfectly synced at lightning-fast speed, a feature made possible with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs.

“We were really interested in creating an interactive experience that people could share, without strapping bulky devices to their heads,” says Darren David, CEO of Stimulant. “Our StimuSense technology, an integrated system of sensors and custom tracking software, lets the landscape come to life as you walk around the space. It turns even the subtlest motion into a beautiful visual response.”

Visitors can also peer into the Infinity Mirror, a custom-built floor fixture that creates the illusion of looking into a bottomless pit full of light.

Stimulant - Reflection Wall -6It’s the Reflection Wall that prepares them for the final ascent. Thousands of effervescent bubbles form a silhouette of anyone standing in front of the wall, turning their shape into a digital “bubble avatar.” After a brief countdown, the avatar flashes and freezes in position – just long enough for a selfie – and then the bubbles float up to the top of the 21-foot screen.

The immersive effect is made possible by NVIDIA Mosaic and Quadro Sync technologies from the NVIDIA DesignWorks SDK, which allows multiple projectors to work in unison, enabling the computer to see them as one single output.

“The experience is a little bit wait-mitigation and a whole lot of interest creation,” said David. “We didn’t want to reveal the mind-blowing view until you reached the top of the building. We wanted to play with your sense of direction.”

The 360 Landscape and Reflection Wall are powered by NVIDIA processors cranking 60 frames per second, as well as Mosaic technology, to create the large pixel areas featured in the space. Additionally, using ImmersaView’s Blend and Warp software kept Stimulant on budget, by forgoing the need for additional external hardware.

“We got to exercise all our creative muscles with this project, and we’re really proud of the finished product,” said David. “We didn’t want to gamble on processors that might have wimped out on us. NVIDIA’s best-in-class performance and features were a no-brainer.”

To experience a bit of Skyspace for yourself, check out the video at http://stimulant.com/skyspace.