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Reinventing the (ferris) wheel

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Reinventing the (ferris) wheel


The Nippon Moon transforms the giant observation wheel from a simple ferris wheel ride to a world-class viewing experience: one that is immersive and interactive, and stands out from other observation rides worldwide.
In collaboration with architecture firm UNStudio, MIR Engineering and other associates, Experientia created an innovative and interactive concept for the Giant Observation Wheel (GOW) experience in Japan, starting from the discovery of the wheel, continuing to the ride itself, the return home and beyond.

3 things to know

  1. The Nippon Moon transforms the giant observation wheel in Japan from a simple ferris wheel ride to a world-class viewing experience.

  2. Using augmented reality and social sharing tools, we created a journey that takes the customer into the heart of the view, bringing the landscape to life in an immersive, innovative experience.

  3. The project has been featured in leading industry press such as Dezeen and WIRED, and is set to rival the London Eye and Singapore Flyer.

UNStudio’s design for the Nippon Moon envisions a Giant Observation Wheel (GOW) to be located in Japan that could rival the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. To make the Nippon Moon unique, UNStudio teamed up with Experientia to create a journey that takes the customer into the heart of the view, and helps to bring the landscape to life in an immersive, innovative experience.

UNStudio invited Experientia to develop the interactive aspects of the project, while engineers Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries collaborated on technical specifications. From a distance, the Nippon Moon concept may look similar to the well-known observation wheels of London and Singapore; the wheel’s look is governed by structural constraints as well as by the location and the size of the wheel. But closer up, the concept is highly innovative, creating a complete user experience where the journey is much more enduring than the 40+ minute rotation on the wheel itself.

Architecturally speaking, there are several innovations which make the Nippon Moon stand out. Although the size and location are currently undisclosed publicly, it will be nearly twice the scale of the London Eye. It also features double-decker capsules – a world first. But it is the focus on the user experience aspects that makes the wheel concept truly unique.

Experientia researched the various experiences of the customer journey from “Discovery” and “Ride” to “Return”, and designed various touchpoints and applications. Over 50 design concepts were explored, covering diverse user interactions and experiences spanning various time frames, services and interaction modes on private or shared devices.

The discovery moment starts as people begin to find out information about the wheel and purchase tickets online. With the Nippon Moon app, interactive features allow people to choose the time of their ride or a themed capsule. The app also builds up excitement over the interim, sharing views from the top of the wheel and counting down to when customers start their rides.

On the day of the ride, people can use the app to keep track of how long to wait until it is their turn to board, allowing them to move within the facility freely, and avoiding queues.

Once on board, the experience of looking out at a city landscape is transformed by augmented reality techniques, built into the transparent skin of the capsules. Imagine looking out at a city skyscraper and being able to see how tall it is compared to towers around the world, or compared to Godzilla. The augmented reality offers viewers the option to immerse themselves in the historical and cultural relevance of the landscape they are looking at – or they can choose to simply enjoy the unenhanced view.

Experiences are shared however, and the app also allows riders to interact with each other or to explore the favorite views from previous riders. The Nippon Moon app lets people communicate with the other capsules during the ride, share with friends, or to send their photos to the Hall of Fame.

As people complete the ride, they see their own photos displayed along with those of other riders in a dynamic digital photo installation as they leave the facility. At their return home, they can evaluate their experience and comment on it via the app.

With original concepts and high-tech implementation, a ride on the wheel will become a truly unforgettable experience.

Related articles about the project from and from Wired UK.

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