Spreading knowledge with light and magic

01. Intro

Holomap - A storytelling installation at Chalmers

The Holomap is a tool for storytelling and communication located at Chalmers university of technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The tool visualizes how the university uses the campus as a test bed for live research projects. It makes otherwise invisible flows tangible, such as the interchange of energy between buildings or  movement of people and transports.

The tool is based on three dimensional model of the physical campus built from an optical acrylic material. The model is fixed to a ultra high resolution display that shines light through the model to create an illusion of illumination.

The end result is incredible – by combining top of the line artistic animation with the best in sound design – stories can be conveyed in a way you’ve never experienced before.

02. Info


Five Star Campus Chalmers


Industrial design, Animation, UX, Electronics, Programming

03. Interaction

Intutive human interaction

An important part in the design of the holomap table was to enable users to easily and elegantly start the different stories. We wanted to avoid physical buttons as the installation would be exposed big amounts of wear and tear over time. To solve this challenge the team chose capacitive sensing, a technology that allows us to sense a human hand right through the wooden construction of the table.

We marked the sensor locations with milled circular contours in the table surface, from each sensor a milled line leads down to the corresponding story on the display – creating an intutive link between button and action.

04. Video
05. Aesthetics


When designing the table the goal was to highlight the experience of the visuals together with the acrylic model of the campus. This by allowing the table to be a discreet, but proud, carrier of the visuals. The spacious shape allows the technology to be hidden inside and with minimalistic design features such as tilted walls, the table draws the focus towards the top and further on towards the display.

With the possibility for different storylines of the visuals, touch buttons has been integrated in the table allowing the audience to switch between stories. The buttons has a slight tactile feeling when surrounded by groves which also leads the attention towards the visuals.

06. Function

Form follows function

The glass cover on top protects the screen and model from dust and facilitates an easy cleaning of the table. At the same time the glass prevent the risk of curious hands getting into the model and avoiding parts of coming loose.

By opening a hatch on the backside of the table the electronics inside can easily be reached when maintenance is needed. To prevent the electronics of getting overheated ventilation holes are place in the bottom of the table.

Since the table is supposed to be shown at different show rooms within the city a good solution for transportation was needed. With a number of feet running underneath the table, it can be easily moved using a a pallet lift.

07. Process

From idea to finished installation

Going from rough idea to polished product is never a straight line, especially when the scope is the project is unclear.
Boid led a team of communicators, researchers and manufacturers through an iterative process of ideation and prototyping.

Prototyping the capacitive sensors.

During the design process several concepts were created to evaluate ideas and visualize possible scenarios.

Trying out different ideas on how to illuminate the acrylic buildings.

Constant iterative prototyping is a staple of all development projects at Boid.

Development of the capacitive sensors. Suprisingly simple in their construction, they can easily sense a human hand through 20mm of wood.

A bunch of motion graphics were designed to enhance the stories being told.

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