Make screens playful

The UK’s First Commercial Responsive Environment: Possibly a European First

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Leisure environments & expectations

We have all, at some point, seen a variations of this type of installation, normally in Galleries, Digital Exhibitions and on rare occasions, as a gimmick to support an ad or product launch. As home automation catches on – WEMO , Philips Hue , Savant et al. consumers are now expecting more and more from their leisure environments. Twinkly lights and an Abba playlist no longer cut it.

The Crab team have been experimenting with a variety of technologies and ideas: from bespoke Spotify playlists delivered to the consumer at his or her booth via directional speakers, to interactive motion art. As the cost of technologies and hardware plummet, controlling and installing a 4k video wall becomes more and more affordable.

Adding Value

Ok, you’ve got a great canvass – what next? Run Sky through it? Boring and pretty much most bars’ default position. Purchase stock imagery? Okay, but where’s value in that idea? Why spend the money on the screens, only to run average, generic footage one can download from the Internet? Another option is to commission bespoke content. A great idea in practice, but can become very expensive and in fact, become boring if it is not updated regularly. What else? What can bars, clubs and other leisure environments do to create interest and increase dwell time and foot fall?

Rank shared their hardware installation plans and commissioned Crab to help augment the hardware being installed. We explored several ideas and presented a single strategy with 4 key tactical touch points, all of which strengthened the overall strategy.

A. Create an engaging focal & talking point
B. Allow new users to ‘play’ with the environment
C. Encourage users to share the experience
D. Exploit social channels to augment reach

Initial tests

Here’s a video of some of our initial tests that helped us to refine the experience, some were more effective than others!


The install

Initial testing proved play and exploration were key to increasing dwell time. The more engaged consumers shared their experiences and images online with the ultimate goal of driving a new user into the bar simply to experience the interactive screen installation.

We tested the Kinect and set the depth so that the bar staff are ignored by the system and only those customers approaching the bar are picked up by the sensor.


A key element of the effects was finding the right balance between directly reflecting the user standing in front of the screens and adding enough abstraction to create a fun and engaging experience.

The reaction

Most of all we wanted the users to have a moment of magic. The moment of realisation – ‘Hey that’s me, I’m doing that, that’s so cool.’ We found that most users just could not help but play with the system once they had ‘discovered it’. It began with arms waving, getting friends to take pictures, selfies and so on. This led to the staff testing the sensitivity of the system by standing outside of the system’s view while throwing items at each other which in-turn created wonderful arcs of light and patterns across the effects on screen.


To see more videos of our work please take a look at our youtube channel or drop us a line and we can send you more examples of work of this nature.

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