A quirky interactive display designed to encourage collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking.

We were approached by the Western Australian Museum to create a bespoke interactive experience and accompanying film for their Rio Tinto Innovation Gallery. The ‘Ant Interactive’ provides visitors with an entertaining and insightful look into the automation systems and work roles within Rio Tinto operations.

The Ant Interactive is a task-based experience design that breaks down the complexity of automation into digestible group activities. A large-scale projection above the interactive display shows a ‘real-world’ film of people working in the Rio Tinto operations.

It focuses on breaking down the stereotypes of who and what workers do in a mining operation, by highlighting the diversity and sophistication of the roles and people involved.

Our role

  • Operational requirement scoping
  • Narrative creation
  • Experience design
  • Multimedia design
  • Content producers
  • Experience design
  • Interactive design
  • Physical interactives
  • Fabrication and installation
  • Ongoing support and maintenance

The interactive design

The project is truly an international affair, with clients, the project team, museum consultants, and exhibition designers based across Australasia and Europe. Gibson International led the entire project from conception through to installation on the floor.

On top of requiring a massive 86” touchscreen, the Ant Interactive incorporates interactive and multimedia experience design into the existing exhibition design. Physical space is tight with floor infrastructure under the area, our team used a light touch working within a historically registered gallery.

The user experience, graphics and software were developed in collaboration with our good friends Space and Time (Denmark). This allowed rapid development and hand off between northern and southern hemispheres during software production, and agility in meeting tight timelines.

Physical and AV design was completed in New Zealand. Covid-19 restrictions meant we could not be on the ground ourselves for the final installation, so we called upon AV suppliers and fabricators that we had successfully worked with before in Perth, Australia.

Making automation interactive

Automation is complex. Driverless trucks, trains and plant machinery link in sync to an array of real-time sensors that display detailed schematics to highly trained operators 1000s of kms away.

The Ant Interactive abstracts automation complexity into a task-based digital experience that displays an ant farm (formicarium) with three types of ‘ant workers’. Visitors control their position, action and level of activity to collect, transport and process resources to create buildings for the ant farm colony.

The experience design is meant to be collaborative, meaning it works best when three visitors work together – one for each ant type. Collaboration is encouraged by the fact that there are limited resources to keep all the worker ants active, challenging visitors to negotiate between themselves to ensure the whole system works optimally.

A few fun ‘spanner in the works’ situations are programmed – with breakdowns and tunnel collapses that need to be repaired before everything can get moving again.

The large-scale projection is one of three projected films in the space, which are supplied by others. The videos complement each other while delivering the required visual messaging for the Ant Interactive’s narrative.

Gibson International collaborated with

Tilt Architecture (NZ), Space and Time (Denmark) and MHW Integration (AUS)

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