Museum Visitors Touchlessly Interact with Dinosaurs Once Native to the Southwest

Client

  • Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Location

  • Las Vegas, NV

Duration

  • 2019-2020

Technologies

  • Unity3D
  • Microsoft Kinect Azure
  • Barco 4K Projector

by Jim Spadaccini, Founder June 18th, 2020

Imagine traveling millions of years back in time to the region that would become Las Vegas, Nevada. With the brand-new interactive exhibit Digital Dinos, Ideum and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum (LVNHM) have done just that. Digital Dinos includes scientifically accurate dinosaurs that once roamed the area in the Cretaceous period, 100 million years ago. This unique projection-based experience allows visitors to interact with a variety of dinosaurs once native to Nevada and the southwest—and to do so touchlessly.

The exhibit’s 16-foot projection displays a lively animated scene that includes massive plant-eating Titanosaurs in the background. A cast of dinosaur characters then begins to appear: a meat-eating Eotryrannus tracks visitors in response to their movements, while a small pack of Deinonychus hides from guests when they appear. When an Eolambia mother and baby appear in the scene, visitors can even stretch their arms and feed them ferns!

Visitors feed dinosaurs by stretching their arms.

The exhibit makes use of the new Microsoft Azure Kinect to track visitor movements and provide corresponding dinosaur interaction. The same technology presents a warning if visitors are not observing 6-foot social distancing. This reminder allows visitors to more safely interact with the Digital Dinos exhibit in the age of COVID-19.

The overall concept for Digital Dinos is somewhat similar to other full-body touchless exhibits that the Ideum team (and others) have created over the years, but this new exhibit is unique in a number of key ways. The exhibit uses a new technique combining 3D models and 2D background animations in the Unity3D development platform. This allowed Ideum’s animators and artists to collaborate closely and efficiently on different aspects of the exhibit. In addition, these 3D dinosaurs were created using Autodesk Maya and Substance Painter. The exhibit also pushed beyond the boundaries of any of our prior work with more nuanced interaction and more advanced sound design. Built completely from scratch with new original artwork, new sounds, and all-new code, Digital Dinos is completely unique.

Most importantly, all of the dinosaurs in this experience are not only native to Nevada, but were also created for maximum scientific accuracy. In fact, many were actually discovered by Las Vegas Natural History Museum’s own paleontologist, Dr. Josh Bonde. A few are clad in feathers, and these depictions, although they are stylized and animated, are based on the most up-to-date data available. The entire scene, including the flora and the geography, is based on what Nevada and the southwest were like in the distant past.

This compelling immersive experience also has the potential to reach far beyond LVNHM audiences, because the Museum and Ideum are making the exhibit available to other museums and public spaces. Please contact our sales group for more information about licensing this exhibit. See you in Las Vegas… 100 million years ago!