Retail and event environments are becoming more immersive and interactive experiences for customers and attendees. Case in point: PERCH, a new interactive solution that transforms standard display tables into vibrant, content-rich projection surfaces that allow consumers to learn more about items right when they pick them up.
PERCH is a spinoff of Potion Interactive, a design and technology firm that Perch Interactive founder Jared Schiffman and partner Phillip Tiongson have run for the past seven years. While Potion focuses on large-scale, site-specific interactive installations for museums, corporate lobbies and restaurants, the partners had the idea two years ago to do something for retail environments. It quickly became clear that retailers and trade show designers were interested in the work Potion was doing, but in terms of budget it wasn’t working out.
“We needed to develop a hardware and software platform that would allow us to create these interactive installations easily and simply without the headache of doing it from scratch every time,” Schiffman says.
Schiffman and his team began development on PERCH late last summer, and launched the system last February.
The hardware consists of the 31-by-16-by-four-inch PERCH box, which is designed to be mounted on a wall or ceiling, or freestanding with a support structure behind it. All of the technology is housed in that box.
The software system was designed for exhibit and retail environments where, as opposed to generic touchscreen-style interaction, the whole interaction is based around physical products. Based on the idea that people interact with products on display, PERCH adds another layer to that experience. As people touch the product or products laid out on the table, information, text, images or other information is projected onto the table surrounding the product.
“This shouldn’t feel like a computer at all, it should feel more like an animated poster that happens to be next to the product. But just moving that media directly around the product instead of eight inches away on a separate screen has a big impact in terms of visual context,” Schiffman says.
Designers and retailers can customize the display to include any layout of products on the table, and where the content will be displayed. Any light-colored table surface will work, and different shapes are good to go, as long as they fit inside the 30-by-48-inch projection envelope.
The PERCH box should be mounted five to eight feet away from the projection surface for best results. Ambient light levels are also something to keep in mind when leveraging this technology.
“It looks great in standard indoor lighting, but I wouldn’t put it next to a giant window with daylight coming in or a space that’s exceptionally bright,” Schiffman says. There are no issues of functionality in a bright space, however, just in the visual impact of the display.
When it comes to arranging products or objects on the table, it is a matter of deciding what is to be highlighted and how much space is needed to tell the story through the media.
“It’s a real estate question; you have so much space, and that space is either dedicated to physical product or it’s devoted to the media about that product. You could put 70 bottles of nail polish on the table if you wanted to, but fewer items leave more room for the projected content to make an impact,” Schiffman says.
PERCH provides standard templates for the presentations, but they are customizable so designers can change things up, add logos and customize the data presented depending on what a project calls for. Future API upgrades will allow users to create content themselves.
For long-term retail installs, PERCH is a priced on a monthly subscription system, which includes installation, the unit itself, tech support and access to the content management system for updates at any time. For events that occur less frequently, there is rental pricing available on a per-day basis.