Instead of looking at spreadsheets and boring graphs, The Batting Lab provided interactive data visualizations, amazing flashes of light and color when they hit a baseball, and a completely immersive environment for them to explore. The Batting Lab gave students a material connection to their data: how they hit a baseball and how they are improving over time.
These data points gave kids a reason to care about what the data really was telling them, and what that data means for them in the future. A completely bespoke learning experience, The Batting Lab emerges as a new approach combining interactive installation and long term narrative.
Working with creative partner McCann Worldwide, Volvox Labs was responsible for everything from content production, fabrication, software development, art direction, and on site installation. The Volvox Labs cross disciplinary team of engineers, fabricators, and designers created an experience that truly encompasses the hybrid digital/physical medium.
Over the course of 5 months, the team developed a completely new software suite from scratch. One of the highlights was creating a completely unique integration with a high-end launch monitor system (used by the Big Leagues!) which analyzed every single hit within the cage.
At the heart of the installation was our custom orchestration engine built in Touchdesigner. This server was responsible for every detail in the installation, at the highest level running an integrated system for all of the external sources of data, game logic, and sensor fusion. The cage was packed full of sensors and cameras which tracked over 50,000 data points of a player’s swing. Our system relied on a combination of a high-end launch monitor system batting analysis system, Bodytrak weight sensors, an array of high speed cameras, and a back end running frame analysis in near real time. Our Touchdesigner system was responsible for live analysis, LED Pixel mapping, audio processing/playback, DMX light control, game logic, and much much more.
Not only was there an outstanding combination of technology within the cage, we built a series of internal tools to allow clients direct control over the experience. The first was an Ipad based Kiosk which was in charge of sign and sign out of all players into the cage. The second of which was a Streamdeck used for admin purposes like turning the cage on and off. Once again both of these systems were directly integrated into Touchdesigner and provided the fine grained control the clients needed without needing to go back and forth with VVOX.
With the client’s goal being to get students better at baseball over the course of 6 weeks, we built an experience and narrative which was based around the feedback cycle: Swing Away, Analyze, Make the Adjustment. We worked with established coaches in the industry to create a rules based decision system which allowed us to give pinpoint feedback to our students. For every swing taken, our system will give coaching feedback, this might be about how to position your legs, or instructing you to start your swing earlier.
In addition we are able to combine our weight sensor data and skeleton tracking to create data visualizations mapped to the participants bodies. Every student who walked into the game had an extensive user profile and dataset which the cage integrated. The system knew where in the curriculum the student was, their performance in past sessions, and even what music the students wanted to listen to during their sessions.
In partnership with design collective OBJ, Volvox constructed a completely unique and otherworldly structure to enclose the batting cage.
The cage was designed to hide as much technology as possible, creating a sense of magic when entering the space, while also providing a safe and functional environment for players to improve their game.