This Interactive Exhibit in San Diego Uses Tech to Channel the Power of a Wishing Well

Posted inWeb & Interactive Design

We live in an individualistic digital world where we’re often so locked into our personal screens that we forget to look up and appreciate what’s around us. Wish Fountain, a new project by San Diego experiential design firm SOSO, doesn’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. This digital water fountain inspires people to enjoy moments of surprise and delight while still honoring the relationship with personal screens.

Visitors virtually respond to prompts displayed on screens throughout the space by communicating their wishes as an image or text message. Each wish is a secret between the sender and the fountain, creating animated waves of colors across the bench and screens. To everyone else, the wish just looks like a light show traveling across the space’s furniture and walls, visually translating the essence of water after a coin hits the surface of a wishing well.

By leaning into what humans are connected to most (their phones) to create an interactive exhibit, SOSO has proven that even the most personal exhibits can build a community-inspired space.

Regent Properties is a real estate developer based in Los Angeles committed to creating dynamic and beautiful properties out of contrarian, out-of-favor, complex, or distressed assets. When reviving 1 Columbia Place, the developer aimed to attract newcomers and generate social media buzz by creating a “surprise and delight” moment for visitors. Regent turned to creative studio SOSO to create Wish Fountain, a nature-inspired, technology-infused interactive installation that transforms visitors’ wishes sent via SMS into a colorful, water-like light show across a ripple-shaped wooden bench and wall-mounted screens. 

Inspired by San Diego’s natural environment and ocean landscape, Wish Fountain conveys the undulating surface of the water after a coin hits the surface of a wishing well. Visitors share their wishes via SMS to a posted phone number, as an image or text, in response to a prompt displayed on the screens. The wishes then are transformed into a light show rippling across the installation. 

Each wish is a secret between the initiator and the fountain, resulting in a unique and captivating animation of colors across the bench and screens. To keep the prompts timely, the building owner has access to a cloud-based Content Management System, allowing them to update the wish prompts to reflect current events, holidays, or important local themes.  

The cloud server powering Wish Fountain draws from online visual sources to decipher the content of each visitor’s text. Then, the installation changes its colors and display inspired by the wish, resulting in reflective and distinctive displays of each visitor’s thoughts and feelings. The building manager can update the prompt for the Wish Fountain so new and returning guests can have new experiences each time they visit 1 Columbia Place. 

Wish Fountain connects people, builds community, and reflects San Diego’s pulse. The installation is visible to all entrances and levels of the building, inviting anyone to view and participate with their own wishes. Not only does it give onlookers the ability to impact their environments and a sense of respite, but it also serves as a new social gathering space to share their wonder. Regent’s commitment to creating unique, fun, and dynamic environments was the perfect catalyst for these immersive experiences. 

Wish Fountain is a part of a series of unique digital artworks for Regent Properties that build community, give visitors a canvas to impact the space, and reflect on local San Diego culture. SOSO worked hand in hand with Tecture on fabrication and installation, Digital Ambiance on LED/electrical engineering, and Performant Advanced Manufacturing on wiring and electrical installation for Wish Fountain.