"A perfect complement to the physical memorabilia; it creates a virtual link between visitors and Hard Rock Cafes all over the world. It's a great example of a brand that understands how to create a sense of connectedness." —juror Rachel Pasqua
"The physical space has barely been tapped and the RockWall is a perfect example of what's to come. Beautiful design, animation and a huge achievement." —juror Mathew Ranauro
Overview: This headliner for the Hard Rock Café's new restaurant on the Las Vegas strip, allows customers to explore the full collection of rock-and-roll memorabilia housed in the company's restaurants around the world. Multiple patrons can simultaneously use their hands to select, read about, move, zoom and search for imagery and video of memorabilia items on a seamless 18' x 4' display. All imagery is displayed in high resolution and can be expanded by simple touch gestures to cover much, or all, of the 5760 x 1080 pixel display surface—so the details of items are revealed as if the users are holding them in their hands.
• Hard Rock memorabilia can be searched by band, year, location, etc. via touch-operated scroll wheel.
• The system employs multiple computers running custom applications built in C++ and Flash. Proprietary software performs multi-camera touch tracking, multi-projector calibration and blending, six-channel audio spatialization and media playback at high-resolution and low latency.
• The RockWall receives between 500 and 1,000 visitors per day.
Comments by Michael Harville and Steve Mason:
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? "There were many. The graphics system is one of the most powerful in the world, allowing real-time, low latency manipulation of a collection of high-res images on a display surface created by tiling and blending multiple projectors. Sensing and tracking dozens of finger touches on a seamless surface of this size had never, to our knowledge, been solved before, particularly with the constraint of robustness to the abuse of thousands of possibly intoxicated Las Vegas tourists. (This ain't a demo by Wolf Blitzer in a CNN studio.) We also needed to design an audio system that could provide different experiences to different portions of the wall, but that would allow sounds to track objects as they are moved around the display."
How did the need for multi-user functionality define the interface? "Designing the interface for the Rock Wall was a unique challenge, because of the requirement that six users be able to use the application simultaneously. Unlike traditional touch screen or even mouse-based interfaces, the placement of elements needed to establish a sense of individual space while at the same time preserving a sense of continuity between them. While it was absolutely necessary that each of the six simultaneous users had a functional, isolated workspace, we didn't want to lose the visceral impact of using the entire screen to display a single image (it's breathtaking to see a 4K photo being scaled and panned at 60FPS on a huge display). The interface gracefully transitions between various modes of operation depending on the number of users: A single user operating the wall will have full control of the display and can fill it completely with a single image. Once another user comes along and touches the wall, an intelligent partitioning system creates a new workspace, again balancing between maximum display area and preserving a region for curious onlookers to approach and create their own workspace."