Interactive CUBE

Endless evolution into fresh forms of fun

Interactive CUBE, which made a splash at SXSW 2018, puts users on "stage"—an entertainment platform
—for an experiential entertainment package of video, sound, and vibrations. A dynamic framework for showcasing new experiences,
Interactive CUBE is constantly evolving through collaborations with outside creators in hopes of opening up new horizons for entertainment.

A full-body entertainment space

The seeds of the Interactive CUBE project first took root when ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur, which opened in 2016, asked Sony to handle its spatial design. In the client's eyes, the target result was a Sony-esque design that would create indelible experiences for every visitor. Working to distill that vision into more practical terms, the design team decided to pair Sony's short throw projection capabilities with transparent screens to cast layers of video in a three-dimensional box—and, on top of that, have the display metamorphose in response to people's movements. It all centered on the idea of a responsive, dialogic space; CUBE was born. When the installation went into operation, the concept proved itself a success. Scores of visitors, whether they actually stepped into the cube or just watched from a distance, marveled at experiences that they had never encountered before.

A subsequent event in Beijing was the setting for the CUBE's second incarnation, an improvement over the first version. To enhance overall platform versatility, the design team ran a battery of simulations on different projection angles and other factors to arrive at a simpler structure. Next came the third-generation Interactive CUBE, which Sony chose to exhibit at SXSW—the world's foremost business festival—for a showcase of compelling experiential value at a high-exposure gathering. To maximize the impact of the technology at SXSW 2018, designers switched the projection surface from glass to film for easier operability and collaborated with outside creators in pushing the entertainment factor in new, exciting directions.

The Interactive CUBE project over the years (L to R): At ISETAN The Japan Store (2016), InfoComm China (2017), and SXSW 2018 (2018)

How collaborations with creators
extend the experience value

For the SXSW 2018 demonstration, the team decided to up the "wow" element by enriching the Interactive CUBE experience with a three-pronged sensory approach: in addition to the technology's audio and visual components, which had been part of the package from the beginning, the designers incorporated haptics technology to foreground an impressive fusion of the real and the virtual. The third incarnation also featured a dual-CUBE setup, making the space expansive enough to accommodate multiple users at the same time. With that capability, the whole experience took on a brand-new versatility: the content ventured into the new, exciting territory of competitive setups and higher-impact experiences. As the new Interactive CUBE shows, one plus one is more than just two—the creative possibilities multiply.

In addition to showcasing multiple interactive games from the minds of Sony designers, the demonstration also featured live DJ performances in a collaborative arrangement with SIX, a group of creators. With the music pumping, sending an energetic vibe pulsing through the venue, the experiential value at the core of Interactive CUBE took on an even stronger presence at the event. SXSW gave the designers a valuable opportunity to see user reactions up close, immediately opening their eyes to real, unfiltered feedback that they could use to make adjustments to interaction speeds and other variables on the fly. Being able to enhance the experience and continuously mold a future-oriented play format, all in real time, made SXSW an exciting, rewarding event for the entire design team.

Bottom right: (L to R) Ogura (design manager), Saito (designer), Mikami (engineering designer), Kawano (designer), and Imamura (project manager) at the SXSW 2018 venue

Future-oriented entertainment
through open innovation

Interactive CUBE is a platform, not something that requires any special devices or body-mounted equipment: to encounter the experience, all you need to do is step inside the cube space. For the DJs providing the beats at the SXSW event, the platform approach made Interactive CUBE a liberating stage for new modes of expression.

With every evolutionary advance, starting from its debut at ISETAN The Japan Store in 2016, the Interactive CUBE project has gathered valuable expertise, incorporated new hardware and software, and gained an increasing range of versatility that makes the platform a compelling installation at a wide variety of different events. Sony's commitment to collaborating with a diverse mix of creative minds and pushing open development keeps the platform moving constantly forward, forging next-generation entertainment every step of the way.

Constantly evolving and reshaping the very concept of play, the Interactive CUBE platform is one of Sony's fertile canvases for designing the entertainment of the future through an open, collaborative approach.