"The customization interface was well-considered, but what really put this one over the top was the printing feature." —juror Bart Marable
"Gives customers a way to interact with the space and take something memorable home with them." —juror Liz Danzico
Overview: Technology has become a vital component of autoshows and this project for Honda once again reinvents the experience. Consisting of a 47-inch touchscreen (and a printer), it allows visitors to view the entire Honda vehicle lineup or customize a Honda Civic SI. The customization process involves three simple steps: create it, view it in a dynamic 3-D rendering, print a foldable version. Although an "infinite" number of designs are possible through various color and decal combinations, the beauty of the project is that it keeps the reward within reach enticing visitors to continue interacting with the brand.
• Development time was eight weeks.
• One of nine integrated interactive storytelling units for Honda's booth at the four major U.S. autoshows.
• Enabling visitors to post designs to a community site is in development.
Comments by Nikolai Cornell:
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? "So much stuff is given away at these shows. We wanted to create something unique to the environment but that people would actually 'use.' Giving people the ability to print a foldable version of a car they'd designed was not only cool, but something that had never been done. Now we know why.
"Although the timeframe was short and the project was part of a huge effort, without a doubt the most difficult aspect of it—primarily due to the number of users—was getting the cars to print accurately and reliably on foldable die-cut paper.
"Absolutely key to the success of this project was creating the design for an origami, with the fewest possible folds, that actually looked like a Honda Civic SI. After more than twenty variations, senior project designer Soo Lee, came up with a template that could print and be 'built' with the fewest number of folds possible. We thought the hard part was over, but it was time to find a printer.
"Since the printer had to be small enough to fit into a specific space, we were forced to go with a consumer product. This created an entirely new set of problems—finding paper that wouldn't jam and that was a weight that we could have pre-perforated—most of them regarding quality. Since we could only print 72dpi from the screen, we pre-printed a bunch of the finer details and then perforated the paper.
"The first show of the four-show circuit presented some printing technology kinks that needed to be ironed out. Among them was the realization that unless the feeder was lined up very exactly it wouldn't print correctly. We ended up jury-rigging the printer, securing the paper feeder with tape and adding a wooden riser block so that the perforations would line up every time. It was a rustic solution but it worked.
"We developed a strong understanding of the link between virtual objects (3-D model) and real tangible objects (paper model). Although some information is compromised along the transfer (details of the shape, colors, reflections), we have isolated the elements necessary to bring across to create a clear link. "In the end, if we had it to do again, we'd collaborate with a printing specialist to develop a reliable custom printing solution."