Amazon needs no introduction as the world’s leading e-commerce, cloud computing, internet retailer, product developer and now bricks-and-mortar retailer of Whole Foods Market. The company pursued a revamp of its Seattle HQ in 2018, which included the Spheres, an innovative building for employees and the public. The Spheres would house as a visitor center called the Understory, where Whitlock was engaged as the AV designer and integrator. Leading partners on the project included Graham Baba Architects, exhibit designer Studio Matthews, media experience designer Belle & Wissell, Jill Randerson Exhibit Management, filmmaker The Radisch, Co. (and Strangelife), and fabricator Dillon Works.
Amazon and its creative partners developed a unique plan for this new building. The Understory refers to the lush habitat between the rainforest floor and canopy, and the goal was to provide a fully immersive, 360-degree experience for visitors. Whitlock designed a solution where people can get up close and personal with the science, engineering, and plants behind The Spheres.
Whitlock implemented technologies that would deliver a unique personal experience to each guest with self-guided and automated capabilities. The most outstanding feature was a large series of displays in a circular setting delivering an immersive view into a luscious rain forest with sights and sounds that follow you throughout. The interactive spaces deliver responsive experiences to the guests to learn about the plant life and the overarching Amazon brand.
Whitlock provides service and support to keep the Amazon Spheres building and the Understory exhibit up and functioning at all times for employees and guests. This includes asset management, remote support and field support for the Amazon team.
Amazon Spheres Understory Delivers a Great Brand Experience
The Spheres Understory is open to the public and is also being used to host special events in Seattle. The most outstanding feature is the large 17’x10’ curved LED 1.5 pixel pitch wall by Planar Carbonlite, with eleven 3’x10’ LED panels set up vertically around it to create graphic columns. Combined, these technologies form a circular setting that offers a 360-degree view into a luscious rain forest with sights and sounds that follow you throughout. The circular experience includes four locations with ultrasonic speakers with spotlights that trigger the audio recordings as visitors stroll along.
The exhibit also includes ambient speakers in four locations around the outside of the center area that are loaded with custom audio narratives revealing interesting details about the facility. Beyond the audio that is presented in unique ways, there are five additional interactive spaces in the exhibit with Planar touch panels, each paired with leap sensors for earlier detection of a visitor nearby. This delivers a more engaging and responsive experience to the Amazon Understory guests. More discovery happens about the exhibit, the plant life and the overarching Amazon brand.
All feedback to date from the customer has been positive, with the technology working and delivering the content seamlessly to visitors. The overall experience reflects well on the Amazon brand and engages the public in an immersive and creative way, with more expansion plans on the way.