Bringing stories to life, part 2: innovations in spatial design

Chad Kunimoto talks media-based spatial design trends and highlights examples from the Panasonic Connect XR Lab

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In part one of this series on bringing stories to life with media-based attractions, engineers from Panasonic Connect’s System Architecture department talked about the role of XR Lab and how co-creating a spatial design can deliver a more cohesive and immersive experience for guests.

Their discussion highlighted the importance of developing every aspect of the attraction, from lighting and sound to interactive and sensory elements, in parallel with the spatial design so the visual content becomes an integrated vehicle for the narrative.

Trends on show at Panasonic XR Lab

Now, let’s see this idea in action as we look at how spatial design trends are maturing through some inspiring examples co-created by the team at XR Lab.


A hologram is a fascinating illusion that allows guests to dive into the story seamlessly. They are an effective (and sharable) way to grab attention, especially in environments where there are many competing demands on the visitor’s attention. And they are also big business: the holographic display market is expected to exceed US$11.65 billion by 2030.

Holograms are by now a familiar sight at trade shows, conferences and LBE venues. But advances in screen materials are overcoming the traditional limitations of Pepper’s Ghost holograms that use space-hungry mirrors, glass surfaces, or sharply angled clear screens to compose the illusion.

Panasonic XR Lab is working closely with partners in the screen manufacturing industry to create holographic display solutions. These use flexible, space-saving mesh screens to maximize the spatial design. This allows holograms to break free of the backdrop and float freely above and around the audience, even in well-lit environments.

The technology scales seamlessly to suit the space and budget. It is also moving towards interactivity with the addition of motion sensors. Holograph tactility and haptics are also on the horizon, though it may be years before we see commercial products.

Black screens

Together with advanced new screen materials, high-brightness projectors with sophisticated colour-adjustment functions are prompting many in the industry to evaluate light-absorbing black screens. This is true even in spaces with high levels of ambient light. For instance, trade shows, art exhibitions, corporate events, and museums.

The effect of bright ambient light on a white screen is hard to miss: colours wash out, and contrast suffers. To overcome this for clients working in illuminated spaces, Panasonic XR Lab works closely with screen manufacturers to tailor the space with the appropriate black screen material according to custom requirements.

Novel materials and manufacturing processes have made black screens more flexible to install while improving viewing angles, black depth, and colour contrast.

Fisheye lenses enable the use of fewer projectors, promoting efficient sustainability

Spherical mapping

Mapping images inside domes or over spherical objects used to demand several projectors to achieve full coverage. However, the advent of new fisheye lenses has made it possible with just one or two projectors instead of the usual four. This also improves the sustainability of your attraction.

Panasonic XR Lab’s partnerships with screen-makers has led to the special provision of individually tailored and hand-made screens unique to the client’s specification. These boost image quality and the overall impact of globe mapping even further. These advances are wowing guests, with the “floating” globe installation (augmented by Silky Fine Mist) at Japan Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai drawing high acclaim.

Ultra-short-throw lenses that feature a wider range of adjustments are also trending for interactive globe-mapping applications. They allow guests to touch the projection surface without casting a shadow over the image.

Immersive tech-fused storytelling at Panasonic XR Lab

Projection mapping is the proven way to envelop large groups in an otherworldly experience. But the sense of immersion can be deepened even further if content production is closely integrated and scaled to the physical space from the outset.

Recently, the Panasonic XR Lab has been developing a 360° experience delivered to small groups in cylinder-like booths. To demonstrate the concept (together with some compelling spatial design examples featuring high-speed tracking projection-mapping), XR Lab created “TOUCH”. This was a show at Panasonic Center in collaboration with DJs and video artists. As you can see from the video, the results and potential are quite exciting.

Another impressive spatial solution co-created with XR Lab was the panoramic display at ENEOS Pavilion at Tokyo 2020. A seven-meter-tall 360° deformed elliptical screen sold the story of hydrogen fuel. There were six 4K projectors arranged to avoid pillars inside the venue.

As you can see, regardless of the scale of your project, it’s really critical to secure an experienced tech partner to co-create a spatial design that considers each aspect of the attraction holistically to ensure a cohesive and impactful result. To learn more, please click here or contact me via email.

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