Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently opened its new regional office in Stockton, California, featuring a full-sized Zero Net Energy Home display. With the state's ambitious goals for all new residential and commercial construction to be ZNE by 2020 and 2030, respectively, PG&E officials engaged two innovative companies – Leviathan and Luci Creative, both based in the Chicago area – to design and implement advanced interactive aspects that take the pioneering ZNE Home's educational aspects to new heights.
By allowing visitors to see exactly how it all works together, PG&E reports that its first-of-its-kind ZNE Home is already providing tremendous value in engaging and educating the public.
With Luci Creative leading the strategy and design, specialized creative agency Leviathan partnered to finesse the experience's communications design, and to bring it all to life.
The primary interactive components of this design project are: The Virtual Tour, an iPad-based augmented reality experience that, by using iBeacons and location tracking, automatically presents relevant ZNE content throughout every room; the Digital Dashboard, an 84" high-resolution touchscreen that compares the comprehensive results and benefits of ZNE conservation methods to those of a typical home built in 2005; and full system design and engineering, including integrated content management and hardware integration.
With multiple levels of navigation in both the Digital Dashboard and Virtual Tour, a clear user experience is essential to visitors understanding what they're seeing on-screen and how to access such a variety of information.
In regard to technological challenges, giving visitors hands-on control of a virtual CG environment – and the ability to navigate topics via a digital floorplan from every inch of the ZNE Home – presented several hurdles. The 360-degree panoramic walkthrough footage was created and rendered with multiple passes featuring varied light maps, to address different seasons. With the Virtual Tour accessing iBeacons and using compass navigation in real-time, the room views automatically update and present footage and information, drawing on the custom Content Management System Leviathan delivered, which also has the benefit of allowing PG&E to easily update content over time.