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See How One Tech Activation Made Data Look Cool

Microsoft's "Infinity Room" in San Francisco brought an immersive multimedia experience to financial district consumers.

By Alesandra Dubin May 5, 2014, 7:38 AM EDT

Microsoft brought its "Infinity Room" consumer experience to San Francisco to illustrate the significance of harnessing data.

Photo: Courtesy of Roundhouse

The average consumer may not associate the concept of “data” with words like “exciting” and “sexy.” But Microsoft wanted to change all that with a promotion in San Francisco in April.

One of Microsoft’s newest solutions, Power BI for Office 365, analyzes complex data sets and visualizes them for the user, essentially ordering information so that people can make sense of it and reach insights easily. To give consumers a sense of the real opportunity—even beauty—in such access to data, Microsoft tapped Pacific Northwest-based creative and digital agency Roundhouse to create a public experience in San Francisco’s financial district.

The team put together an activation called the “Infinity Room,” from April 15 to 17 at the Embarcadero Center. The experience included a voice narrative, “Welcome to Infinity,” which talked about how visualizing data from an ordinary quarter can provide important insights into its real-world impact, from health to global economies. Roundhouse and big-name San Francisco-based data journalist Simon Rogers wrote the narrative.

To help execute the vision, Roundhouse worked with London-based visual art and experience group Universal Everything, which turned the narrative into animation and constructed the interior light display intended to create a sense of infinity. It included the use of specially treated mirrors billed as the first of their kind: They transformed from providing a reflection to a display showing the animation on a 15- by 8-foot LED screen.

“As a part of our marketing strategy for our data platform business, we looked for ways to extend our marketing message to audiences that were not aware of the capabilities Microsoft offers to help organizations create a data culture and realize value from their data every day across their organizations,” said Microsoft director of marketing for cloud and enterprise Ruth Erickson. “The Infinity Room concept was a creative way to have a broader impact and bring to life just how powerful all the data that surrounds us can be.”

A 360-degree digital representation of the experience is available online.

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