SkyPad, Powered by Planar, Draws Visitors into the History and Future of the Space Needle

Interactive Clarity Matrix Video Wall connects the past and future of iconic Seattle landmark

Seattle’s Space Needle, where the Space Age heritage of this World’s Fair icon is seamlessly integrated with leading edge digital signage technology of today, features a one-of-a-kind Planar video wall installation.

Named SkyPad™, the 135-square-foot interactive Clarity® Matrix™ MultiTouch LCD Video Wall showcases the history and evolution of the landmark spire as it provides visitors an opportunity to become part of its future. The result is a stunning visual immersion that highlights both past and present, educating visitors as it enhances their connection with the Pacific Northwest’s best-known architectural landmark.

A collaboration between Planar Systems, and Seattle-based interactive design firm Belle & Wissell, Co., SkyPad has helped fulfill a goal of creating a 21st century experience for millions of visitors.

“Planar’s Clarity Matrix is one of the best-in-class video wall solutions for so many reasons,” said Karen Olson, vice president of marketing for Space Needle, LLC. “For our operation, not only are the displays big and bright, but they are also durable and flexible and meet a variety of our needs in a cost-effective way. SkyPad helps our guests explore the Needle’s past, present and future like never before. They can immerse themselves in 50-plus years of sunsets, celebrations, history and imagination, all in a beautiful, elegant touchscreen experience.”

Bringing the Space Needle’s Story to Life

Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle annually attracts over 1 million guests who ride the elevator 520 feet up to its observation deck. There, they can take in 360-degree vistas of the city, Puget Sound, the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains. Now, with SkyPad, they can also trace an interactive path through the saucer-shaped building’s history. 

Key to the success of the installation is Planar’s technology. The interactive video wall is composed of 15 Clarity Matrix LCD video wall displays in a five-foot wide by three-foot high configuration. The video wall features the latest in multi-touch technology with 32 touch points, allowing multiple users to interact simultaneously with the video wall.

Using Interactive Content to Increase Visitor Engagement

Clarity Matrix LCD video wall technology allowed the creators of the Space Needle SkyPad to place content wherever they wanted on the video wall. A center section of the video wall depicts images of the Space Needle from the time it was constructed to the present day. Visitors can use the display’s touch capabilities to select images of interest and then explore them in greater detail with the touch of a finger. While other touch video walls require protective glass in front of the video wall, the Clarity Matrix MultiTouch features Planar® ERO™ (Extended Ruggedness and Optics™) technology that provides a continuous touch surface, delivering better optical performance and ease of installation and service. 

On either end of the SkyPad are one-by-three foot display sections that make up a digital guest book. This is especially popular because guests can “pin” themselves and their names, home states and/or countries so that they appear on a digital globe within each display. With their names up in lights on the globe, visitors can snap photos and share their Space Needle experience on social media. Guests can also upload images to the Space Needle website and add them to the Space Needle’s social media content stream.

Since the video wall was installed in July 2014, more than 93,000 visitors from 285 countries have added their names to the guest book. Engagement numbers continue to increase as the superior visual performance of the Clarity Matrix video wall draws visitors into the experience.

“The image quality is beautiful even when standing close and interacting with the video wall. We can also broadcast HDTV on it and it looks amazing,” Olson said.

The SkyPad video wall builds on the use of top-notch digital technology throughout the Space Needle, while saluting the building’s legacy as an icon of Space Age innovation.