Check out the new Microsoft Lounge at L.A. LIVE

Kareem Anderson

While Microsoft continues to try and distance itself from its Nokia smartphone debacle, there was something positive that came out of the purchase and eventual sell-off of the company’s mobile division.

As part of the purchase of Nokia’s mobile division, Microsoft also somehow retained the rights to the Nokia Theater in sunny Southern California. Since the purchase, Microsoft has rebranded the event center and it looks like the theater is in for an impressive design overhaul.

Soon Microsoft will be unveiling a new technological view of entertainment and relaxation dubbed the Microsoft Lounge at L.A. Live.

“We realized quickly that we could create something unique and leave a mark and get people to become part of the experience,” says VolvoxLabs’ Kamil Nawratil, creative director of Microsoft Lounge. He approached the project as if solving a puzzle, taking on different challenges. “The installations tell the story of the theater and Microsoft, and how people can interact with each element. It allows you to act out and express how you feel at the moment. It’s one of the biggest permanent piece we’ve done, four standalone installations that form one cohesive piece.”

The overhaul was a meticulous undertaking that brought vice president of research for Wasserman Mike Bernstein, designer Tiffany Harris and the vice president of Events and Production for Microsoft Theater together to create a premium experience for anyone attending events in the future.

“Now it’s a place where people want to go,” he says. “We know events, Microsoft knows technology. They know how to touch customers through technology, and we touch people through events. We both have the same end goal: that the consumer walks away with a magical experience.”

Based on the preliminary views of the installation, Graham says there is enough positive chatter that partners are coming back with “ideas for concessions and bar areas to match Microsoft, so it all runs together.”

Here are just some of the details surrounding the Microsoft Lounge:

  • The first piece is a Microsoft-powered kinetic wood sculpture. Inspired by the Microsoft logo, it’s made up of 80 Ultramotion motors and 160 wooden tiles, and is reactive to a visitor by using the Microsoft Kinect. The piece moves and illuminates with different colors in response to human motion. The team learned how to treat the ash wood, which was sourced locally. They milled it in-house in Brooklyn, sanded and stained it, and shipped 10 modules to LA.
  • The team learned how to treat the ash wood, which was sourced locally. They milled it in-house in Brooklyn, sanded and stained it, and shipped 10 modules to LA.
  • The second installation is a 40-foot projection mapped wall made of high-density foam with three Barco RLM-W14 large venue projectors casting content on the façade, which can be tied to events happening at the venue.  Overhead three Kinects can also track user movements to transform their motion into artistic content, which is projected in real-time.
  • The third experience is a 4-monitor video wall equipped with a Kinect sensor and a touch screen interface. “It runs you through steps to take photos. It’s a digital green screen, essentially, and then you are being superimposed on backgrounds the AEG staff can pick.”  The display can align with artists or events happening at the venue at the same time, and visitors can then post the photos to social media. The installation also uses Microsoft Azure to store the images for those who opt-in.
  • The fourth installation is a digital mosaic mural and focuses on documentation and sharing.

There is a lot more that went into the design and construction of the Microsoft Lounge and the company has written a blog post to highlight it all. Visit the Microsoft Features blog for more details about the new lounge and how it could be the starting point for a more immersive experience for getting together.