Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Obscura Digital Can Make Your Brand Big...Really, Really Big

igooglewallWe recently named the firm Obscura Digital one of the top ten innovative companies in advertising and marketing, but their work really puts traditional advertising to shame. Obscura first worked the festival circuit, creating immersive experiences with domes and multiple projectors. Now, by developing a proprietary technology, the group can project any image onto any shaped object, which means they can build massive human-sized touch screens and turn buildings into interactive billboards. "We build everything from scratch," says director of interactive media, Nikolai Cornell, which could mean fabricating reflective monitors, designing gaming pods, using Flash and 3D modeling programs, and building systems of sensors that allow multi-touch holographic interaction. The result are immense temporary experiences that help consumers visualize and better understand the products of its clients. It's like Minority Report, but bigger. Much bigger. And also it's real.

One of Obscura's best known projects, iGoogle Artist Themes involved turning an entire city block of the Meatpacking District in New York into a series of projected, interactive billboards, where the work of artists like Jeff Koons and Marc Ecko were blown up to five stories tall for the three night event. Or you may have spotted Adobe CS3, an interactive window display advertising Adobe's new Creative Suite release that became visually hyperactive based on how many people walked by on the street, and even how close they came to the screen. The collaboration with Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Brand New School transformed windows of the Virgin Megastores in Union Square, New York, and Picadilly Circus in London.

Want to experience some of Obscura Digital's projects in person? Get their iPhone app which uses a mapping function to show you which of their projects are nearby. If you're near their office in San Francisco you can use the iPhone to control the graphics in the installations constantly running in their Demo Room. You can also rent out that space and hire Obscura to transform it into the experience of your choice.  

Four More Unforgettable Experiences

Before Cornell was at Obscura, he worked on some massive projects for the auto industry through the experience marketing firm George P. Johnson. Here are some of our favorites for Scion, Acura and Honda.

Scion Mix It Up was an early way to show consumers how customizable the cars were. A massive kiosk allowed people to pick colors and options for their own vehicle. These were rendered into beautiful 3-D graphics that could be emailed to users or made into a t-shirt.

Acura Interactive Oracle is a circular monitor that feels like the pool of a wishing well, where users can touch the screen to activate color and sounds that represent different elements of Acura's brand (like design and performance). If many users interact with it at once, creating the right "balance" between all Acura's features, it rewards them with a beautiful graphic show.

Honda Safety Crash Test was a cool solution to what could have been a mundane topic: Safety. The designers decided that people actually like watching cars crash so they created an experience that let people manipulate videos of cars crashing while graphics showed what technologies would save you. The video-game-like console uses hardware that brings to mind a missile launching control room, where users can scroll slow motion through footage of a Honda smashing head on into a wall.

Honda FCX Clarity Exhibit was used to walk consumers through a pretty radical concept: That someday drivers will be able to power theirs cars (and their homes) with hydrogen fuel cells. The designers anticipated the questions that consumers would be asking about the process and broke that down into a circular kiosk with a series of videos and interactive screens.

Related: The Most Innovative Companies in Advertising & Marketing