Our universe originated from a cataclysmic event – the Big Bang. Atoms, speed, pressure, collisions and explosions, force, time and energy all went into this monumental event. Over billions of years, more complex forms of matter emerged and evolved, resulting in the creation of our stars, planets and galaxies, stretching farther than the eye or mind can see.
The concepts of physics are relevant to us all, and the Institute for Quantum Computing, a world leading scientific research institute based at the University of Waterloo wanted to demystify how harnessing those quantum laws of nature promotes the development of revolutionary technology—of which, has far-reaching implications.
ASTOUND and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), a world leading scientific research institute based at the University of Waterloo, collaborated to create the first-ever traveling exhibition that would showcase advanced concepts of quantum computing and physics in a more approachable format than ever before. The exciting partnership included contributions from Lord Cultural (for strategy, content guidance and visitor experience) and NGX—an interactive design and media production firm. It also came to the public as a signature initiative of Innovation150, the Government of Canada's celebration of 150 years of Canadian Innovation.
Through a multidisciplinary approach that merged IQC staff with ASTOUND project managers, designers, content facilitators, interactive and visitor experience leads, a ‘visioning’ workshop was conducted that served as the launching point from which an interpretive plan and concepts were developed, content coordination and design were outlined, and logistics, fabrication and installation were executed.
The 4000-square foot exhibition focused on key scientific concepts centered around quantum computing and mechanics and allowed the designs to explore these concepts from section to section. The designs used lighting and shapes to highlight areas that included interactive activities and displays to encourage visitor engagement.
Inspired by a futuristic aesthetic, the color palette for the installation was bold and saturated, balanced with white, gray, and black. Each zone was differentiated by one color that helped guide the visitor through the exhibit, maintaining proper traffic flow. Primary colors are used for primary panels and titles while secondary colors were used for secondary panels and accent. Dark semi-reflective furniture contrasted with the bright colors of the graphics.
Panels and walls were fashioned from pained millwork with textured CNC surfaces, Corian-lit signage, and featured text, images and infographics denoting each separate area.
Internally lit, tensile free-standing structures called totems integrated interactives with secondary texts at many stations to call out key concepts. Graphic language and digital media extended onto table surfaces at optimal viewing height to facilitate participation.
Engagement activation dispersed throughout the installation combined fun with learning and technology. The Entanglement game for instance, used a combination of integrated Bluetooth, a custom app, and a tablet controller, to move robotic Sphero balls that represented particles both in a visitor-controlled and automated fashion on a low flat surface of a glass-enclosed arena. The tablet controllers were secured to custom kiosks outside of the Sphero arena.
Informative narratives such as the Wall of IT told the story of information technology, using digital screens, colored graphic icons, embedded trim lighting which outlined the chronology of the story and emphasized the 3D objects, and a design that allowed for complete foldability, enabling the display to become a 360-degree experience.
The level of complexity of the design execution and fabrication mimicked its subject matter, but with knowledgeable partners and our solutions based strategy, a creative and original traveling exhibition will be dropping knowledge in science centers nationwide.