When it came time to promote the Nexus Q, Google went big, commissioning San Francisco-based creative production shop Bot & Dolly to build a massive replica of the new media streaming device.
Spanning 8 feet, the giant orb was unveiled via an interactive installation titled "Kinetisphere" at Google I/O 2012, the conference for developers.
Using Nexus Qs and Nexus 7 tablets placed at three separate stations, conference attendees were able to manipulate the LED-encircled orb, crafting a dynamic visual and audio experience in the process. "The combined efforts of all three users would move the sphere through the space, causing it to interact with different audio zones and add or subtract attributes from the current audio mix," Bot & Dolly senior producer Bill Galusha explains.
A team of diverse talents, ranging from architects to shipbuilders, spent six weeks designing and fabricating the orb, ensuring it would be strong enough and light enough to be safely swung around a public space. Meanwhile, the software that controlled the installation has been in development at Bot & Dolly for over two years. "We started with a piece of custom software we’ve built, integrated with Autodesk Maya that allows animators to design and control the motion of industrial robots," Galusha says. Bot & Dolly’s software engineers then took the set of products Google was launching at I/O—the Nexus 7, Nexus Q, and ADK 2012—and turned them into custom-control surfaces for the robot’s motion. Another team of artists composed the soundtrack, designed the audio-reactive visuals, and conceived the additional details that gave the installation its final look and feel.
While building the orb was hard work, simply moving it was also a challenge. The robotic arm and sphere are close to 30 feet tall when fully extended, and together they weigh roughly 8,000 pounds. "However, it’s been designed dynamically, and aside from the sheer size, it can be assembled in about two days," Galusha says, noting there is an outside chance the mammoth installation may be seen in New York City in late July.