The History Channel program centers on a competition, "The City of the Future: a Design and Engineering Challenge," in which designers, architects and artists enter their visions of century-distant Washington, D.C., San Francisco or Atlanta for a chance to win $15,000, among other prizes.
The challenge, to be held in each of the three cities, is accompanied by an Infiniti-branded public exhibition of competitive designs set at high-traffic venues. The program began this week at Washington's Union Station. The effort is via New York-based agency Tequila's L.A. and Nashville, Tenn., offices.*
The exhibition will travel to the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Sunday, and then to Atlanta on Jan. 29.
Infiniti's presence at the tour includes signage and vehicles, but it centers on an interactive kiosk with a 57-inch flat-screen video display that shows video of whoever is standing in front of it via a camera pointed at the participant.
When participants hold one of five two-dimensional cards adorned with photos of the EX in front of the camera, the kiosk alters the image of the card onscreen so that it appears that a fully three-dimensional version of the EX is sitting upon the card, along with a 3D environment of trees, road and buildings. When a participant tilts or moves the card in any direction, the vehicle appears to drive about on the card.
One card, when held before the camera, sprouts a copse of trees and a road, on which a diminutive EX is able to back up, move forward and generally traipse about on the limited real estate. Another card creates a transparent version of the car, whose interior features can be expanded close-up.
Jeremiah Knight, director of digital strategy, Tequila, said the company will use the kiosk at auto shows and may create more of them.
"We have one that demonstrates the new Around View Monitor feature on the EX," he says. The Round View features uses cameras around the car to allow the driver to see a video image of what's happening around the vehicle, as if one were suspended in the air above it. So, as one tilts the card, the car "drives" around in various directions, with an insert video showing the Around View perspective.
Knight says the kiosk technology is via a French company called Total Immersion. "We found out about it and felt it would be a good marriage for a technology-first automaker."
The audience for the History Channel events is both architects and designers and design aficionados, per Brendon Curtis, management supervisor for Infiniti interactive marketing for Tequila, Infiniti's interactive shop. "In addition to design community, there is also foot traffic from passersby, since they are being held in high-traffic areas."
Brendan says that among the three events, the company is expecting some 200,000 people to try the kiosk. "We just had both creative and account people at the show in D.C. and got a long e-mail from the creative director, who said people were gathered around the kiosk waiting their turn for a chance to try it."