“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke
“It’s not real, it’s just magic!” — My four-year-old daughter, captivated by the AV at Harry Potter World (Universal Studios)
After InfoComm this year, I snuck away with my family for a mini-vacation. From the projector “sprinkling” us with fairy dust as we got on the Peter Pan ride at the Magic Kingdom, to the 4-D experience of breaking out of Gringotts bank at Universal Studios, theme park AV gave my family a truly magical experience.
Now, I’m a real roller coaster junkie. I thoroughly enjoy being dropped from a great height, screaming my head off all the way down. I don’t mind the simulated rides that seem to be all the rage lately (especially when they’ve managed to get the lines for said rides to be so short). But a purely 4-D ride experience is never going to cut it for me.
The best technology usage was when it was an add-on or enhancement to our experience. We took the Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Instead of looking out the window and seeing concessions stands and sweaty tourists, they projected the ride to Hogwarts onto our window. We heard “voices” out in the passageway, and the silhouettes of Harry, Hermione, and Ron went by. For my four-year-old, it made it feel like we were really part of the story. We used the restroom in Hogsmeade, and we could hear Moaning Myrtle lurking in the facilities. The Hogwarts castle was full of ghosts and enchanted portraits.
You know your AV is well done when Marika from TierPM and I turn to each other and say, at the exact same time, “OK, that was pretty cool.”
One of the best (and most lucrative) uses of technology was the interactive wands that we purchased. (Buyers beware, they start at something like $50) Point your wand at an interactive display, swish and flick, murmur some magic words and…. magic! By the end of the day, I think my daughter was convinced that she’s a real witch. She’s going to be sorely disappointed when she doesn’t get her Hogwarts letter.
All of this theme park/AV magic got me thinking about how we recommend and sell technology. It should be an enhancement to real life. Watch the sunset off your back deck while listening to your favorite music. Use a telepresence system that helps all meeting participants feel active and engaged. Technology should be about figuring out what we want to do, and then making it a better experience. And, hey, oftentimes what we want to do is watch catch videos on a big TV so that everyone can see them.
It takes a bunch of very smart theme park designers to make the day fun. It takes a bunch of very smart people in the AV industry to make it magic.
And, hey, can we all go back to Orlando for InfoComm next year? This wand we bought doesn’t seem to work very well outside of Harry Potter World…
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