Monday, November 29, 2021

Loving the challenges and meeting them

Guest editorial by Tricia Rodriguez,

CEO and Director of Marketing, Mad Systems

At Mad Systems, we are grateful for our industry community and for the opportunities and challenges that community has brought us. And we do love a challenge.

Looking back on the development of our company and its achievements, we credit our relationships – clients trusting us to take on big challenges. And we credit our team – the right people with the right attitude, empowering us to succeed and excel. We’re called upon to meet very high expectations, and we always do.

An early milestone was The Augusta Canal Discovery Center at Enterprise Mill in Augusta, Georgia, that opened in 2003. Designer Chris Chadbourne of Christopher Chadbourne & Assoc. brought us onto the team. The project gave us a chance to show our ability to create custom interactives – and set the pace for Mad Systems to be different from other AV companies.

Mad Systems built the exhibits to the left in this image for the Griffith Observatory, some of which utilize a Pepper’s Ghost effect to illustrate key astronomy related facts. All photos courtesy of Mad Systems

Another amazing early project was Landry’s Downtown Aquarium in Houston, Texas. We were brought on by Cuningham Group to create an immersive sound environment. This allowed us to really dive into the audio side of things and develop a unique approach to creating randomized audio that doesn’t become monotonous.

The venerated Griffith Observatory reopened in 2006 after an extensive upgrade, and we were honored to be part of it. We produced a series of object theaters using a combination of techniques – including Pepper’s Ghost – that illustrated some key astronomy figures and events. We collaborated closely with the media team to produce the orreries in the museum and to synchronize the mechanical action with the video. Our work brought a new level of precision and accuracy to our electro-mechanical interactive development.

We contributed to three landmark projects with the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago between 2006 and 2011: U-505 Submarine Exhibit, YOU! The Experience and Science Storms. All three received Thea Awards. Science Storms was a real trendsetter. We are very proud of the acoustic and audio solutions we provided in that tricky atrium space and of our role in creating this early example of simplified access and control by using notebooks and phones, with no need for a custom device. We worked with Evidence Design on this project.

Mad Systems developed a solution that randomizes various audio files to create an ever-changing track of background sounds for Landry’s Downtown Aquarium in Houston, Texas.

Outside of specific projects, Mad Systems has helped establish some best practices such as creating user friendly system interfaces and remote support services, empowering venues to run and maintain sophisticated systems even with limited staff.

We were delighted to be part of the team for Crayola IDEAworks, a pioneering step taken by Crayola in its LBE initiative, and an amazing collaboration with the Franklin Institute and Agency808. This exhibit, which opened in 2021, relies on our QuickSilver® system, which turns everything you thought you knew about AV on its head. The wireless system that runs Crayola IDEAworks represents a huge breakthrough for traveling exhibitions and the attractions industry in general.

Speaking of turning things on their heads, Mad Systems has been granted multiple patents for its recognition-based media delivery and for the underlying recognition technology used to track visitors’ locations, which is part of the LookingGlass Concierge system. The recognition technology, which includes facial recognition, can also tailor interactive exhibits to cater to a guest’s needs or preferences, while LookingGlass Concierge aims to personalize visitor services and delivery systems. We’re very excited about the potential to revolutionize the guest experience in theme parks, museums and attractions.

Mad Systems provided technology solutions for the Science Storms exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

I think we have been able to stay fresh and innovative because of the capabilities of our team, the projects we have worked on and the expectations of what we can deliver. With a quality and R&D driven culture, innovation is natural to us. We have both a team that has been with us for a long time and a culture of curiosity. That has set the pace for who we are. We want to be the best and to do projects that are fun and unique.

Mad Systems is helping the industry to see beyond the black box. The industry has become accustomed to the traditional idea of an AV system where you keep adding black boxes to make new things happen. But it’s the software within the boxes that has been running our systems for a long time now. We’re getting away from thinking in terms of boxes and getting to the heart of things. That will empower creatives, integrators and operators to tell stories that are more engaging and transcendent in what they can do for the guest experience. The new generation is demanding no less. The technology is here, and it’s ready to help create the best experiences ever for all of our audiences. • • •

Guest Contributor
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