Connecting Conversation to Life
WeChat approached Ogilvy to create an installation that combined technology and user interactions around the theme of ‘conversation.’ The team at WeChat additionally requested that an audience would consider the installation culturally Chinese.
The Ogilvy Creative Technology team wanted to create an installation installed into and around a live forest of bamboo, creating an environment of echos as users whisper secret messages to the plants by merely touching them.
To fully immerse guests into this space and encourage full exploration of the bamboo forest, we decided to flood the floor space around the bamboo, requiring users to remove their shoes before walking around on a smooth pebble floor. We designed the bamboo shoots to be planted densely, but with enough space for guests to easily explore.
The project included two significant developmental challenges:
- How to power a system that included embedded LEDs, microphones, and amplifiers; powered off mains power, in a safe way that would allow users to walk around a flooded floor.
- How to install LEDs, microphones, speakers, and amplifiers into living bamboo without harming or killing it.
Working with a team of electrical engineers, we focused on safely creating a space where guests could interact with the experience. By converting 220v to 3v remotely and isolating the ‘safe’ low power from the dangerous high power, we were able to keep the water that the users walked through grounded and neutral. All plants were positively charged at 3v, and when touched by a guest, this plant would drop down to neutral through contact with a guest’s hand. This voltage drop would trigger embedded LEDs, speakers, and microphones, allowing a guest to whisper a secret to the plant.
Secondly, we hired a horticulture expert to help us safely add low voltage LEDs, speakers, and microphones inside of living bamboo. As bamboo conducts electricity, we were able to use the bamboo itself to trigger the recording.