Madison Square Garden Company teases an ambitious 18,000-seat venue wrapped inside a 170,000-square-foot LED sphere capable of various haptic feedback.
If you’ve managed to make it out to the legendary city of sin lately, you may have noticed that gambling is on the decline. It seems as though more and more families have begun flocking to the desert hot spot – an act one would have considered highly inadvisable only 10 short years ago. However it seems as though what happens in Vegas, now goes up almost immediately on Facebook.
Businesses have been forced to adapt, focusing more on entertainment and dining as opposed to burlesque and craps. VR in particular has found a home among the cities massive catalogue of entertainment, serving as both an activity for younger audiences as well as tool for more adult-style entertainment as well (don’t worry, it’s SFW).
But it’s Madison Square Garden Companies latest venture into large scale, shared experiences that may have just taken the cake in terms of immersive technology-based entertainment. Breaking ground this summer adjacent to Las Vegas Sands on the Las Vegas Strip, The MSG Sphere Las Vegas is an absolutely monstrous, 18,000-seat facility that will serve as a venue for concerts, sporting events, trade shows, and various other large happenings.
However it’s the immersive technology behind the revolutionary venue that makes this entire project so exciting. The exterior of the sphere is coated in LED screens capable of transforming the structure into various objects such as a tennis ball, snow globe, alien planet, whatever suits the theme of the event happening inside.
Speaking of the inside, MSG Sphere’s interior will be wrapped in a 170,000 square-foot LED screen. To put things in perspective, that’s 166,000 more square-feet than your average IMAX screen and 169,000 square-feet more than a standard screen. This is where things begin getting interesting, as the New York-based company revealed plans to engage in not only the audiences visual and audible senses, but their sense of touch and smell as well.
“Just sitting there, what would it take to convince you that instead of sitting here in an airplane hangar in Las Vegas, you are sitting in your chair in the polar ice cap or an Amazon rainforest?” spoke Jim Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Company. “Obviously if you are in the polar ice cap, you have to feel cold; you have to see the glacier. That is essentially what we are building: an attempt to convince you that you are somewhere else.”
The venue will also support a location-specific audio via an adaptive acoustics system capable of directing sounds to particular locations around the arena at near-constant volumes. The company also teased advanced scent-based technology as well as physical haptic feedback – all of which changing depending on what immersive experience you find yourself engaged in at that time.
“We are going to employ a haptic flooring system that will create vibrations that when you are riding atop a Harley, you’ll feel the pistons pumping,” adds Dolan.
Dolan is already reaching out to the various performers, artists, storytellers, and other creators for possible content. The company already has some lofty ideas including, but not limited to, esports tournaments, product launches, educational demonstrations, even unique events where the entire audience is actively participating in real-time.
“Imagine instead of having five players play five players, we can have 9,000 versus 9,000 or 1 versus 17,999,” dreams Dolan.
Whatever the case may be, it’ll be exciting to see just how far the company takes the venues immersive capabilities. The concept of controlled weather, audio and smell in a large-scale shared experience would open a new chapter in immersive storytelling by providing high quality, social mixed reality.
The MSG Sphere Las Vegas is scheduled to open 2020 on the Las Vegas Strip. The project is the result of a partnership between Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands.
Image Credit: AP News / Variety