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Empire State Building taps QR codes to activate multimedia exhibit

New York's Empire State Building has unveiled a multimedia display that incorporates QR codes to let visitors engage with the exhibit after leaving the physical space.

Visitors can access information such as what the building does to react to temperature and weather via the QR codes, which are displayed throughout the exhibit. Each pillar in the exhibit has a unique URL, such as http://esbtour.com that visitors can access via their smartphone.

?We wanted a way to extend the experience beyond the physical space,? said Jamie Monberg, director of interactive at Hornall Anderson, Seattle. ?There was so much great content we wanted to share, and we wanted to reinforce a call to action ? every visitor has an opportunity to be part of the sustainability story.

?We also knew that many of the consumers are international visitors, and this was a great opportunity to build in a way to serve localized content,? he said. ?Functionally, it's a thin client that renders contextual information adaptively across a broad array of browser-equipped mobile devices.

?The key is to augment the physical real life experience of waiting in line and engaging the exhibits with mobile content that provides a portable read of the content and deeper dive for those visitors that want to know more.?

Here is an image of one of the pillars:

Mobile initiatives
There are mobile calls-to-action ? a mobile URL and QR code ? that starts with signage in the pre-ticketing area of the queue and carries through to labeling on each of the pillars with specific links to relevant parts of the mobile experience corresponding to the theme of that pillar/exhibit.

Additionally, Hornall, which partnered with the Empire State Building, localized the content for visitors who are not English readers.

?Browser equipped mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous even across traditional age/socioeconomic/psychographic segments,? Mr. Monberg said. ?A business person might have a RIM device and a young person might have an old Sidekick.

?All of us are constantly using these screens as a way to augment the way we experience our physical environment,? he said. ?We included QR codes specifically to speak to an international audience.?

Here is an image of a transformational cube in the Empire State Building, where users can get a URL to find out more information:

Visitor exhibit
The exhibit combines physical artifacts with technology and integrates digital and sculptural elements that include 15 digital storytelling screens, 18 video players and four projectors along with detailed visuals, statistics and interactive screen guide visitors that educate and entertain visitors on their way to the Observatories.

?A major takeaway of the Empire State Building sustainability story is what individuals can do to effect change on a personal level,? Mr. Monberg said. ?There is nothing more personal to us than our mobile devices.

?While there is much talk of cosmic augmented reality apps today, this is a way of implementing a real life experience augmented by a specific mobile-driven guide,? he said. ?It builds anticipation for people waiting for tickets and it allows people waiting in the pre-elevator queue on busy days to more deeply engage with the exhibit ? mobile content can have an intimacy that a large glass pillar has a tough time delivering comprehensively.
 
?We chose a thin client strategy versus a propriety thick client app strategy to get the broadest possible reach given the diversity of technology users and usage amongst the Empire State Building visitor base. It's also easier to update, localize, and extend to new platforms.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats, editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer/>