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Perceptoscope: Immersive Experiences for Public Spaces


Social enterprise or B-corps

With recent support from a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant, Perceptoscope is currently undergoing a feasibility study around the effectiveness of the project at various sites around Los Angeles. Pilot deployments will begin later this year at the La Brea Tar Pits. Support from LA2050 would compliment the pure R&D funding provided by National Science Foundation to better allow for experience development and deployment with our partner locations.

What does your organization do?

Perceptoscope connects people to places through interactive public art and immersive storytelling. We use augmented reality landscape viewers to give people a new perspective of what’s around them.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Perceptoscope was started with just an idea and a sense of its potential. How could we create a portal to a new perspective on the world around us? Early experiments were more like that of a mad scientist than formal technology development.

Though we’ve put in a lot of personal effort and sacrifice to get to this point, what really accelerated our growth was when we started sharing the project more broadly across the community.

We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without the help of the non-profit makerspace CRASH Space, and by extension the greater Los Angeles Maker community. LA has an incredible base knowledge around making things, spanning the creative media industries, to aerospace, and textiles. If you want to create something entirely new, chances are someone in LA knows how to help you do it.

By opening up and sharing the project, we were able to build a community of support that could incubate and grow the idea into something bigger. What started off as a prototype built out of cardboard and spare parts become a real product with a Bill of Materials, design specifications, and local contract manufacturers. Each new prototype became a step in a larger journey to understand what it means to make something locally in an increasingly globalized world.

To date, we’ve deployed Perceptoscopes at a number of notable locations with thousands of eyes gazing through, one pair at a time. With each opportunity to share the project, we gain new insights and evolve the project to better reflect the needs of those around us.

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Manufacturing activity
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the best place to CONNECT
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to create?

We’ll be deploying Perceptoscopes for longitudinal studies in partnership with a variety of local organizations. To do this effectively, we need to continue to build out our open source software development kit, test new types of media production techniques, and craft impactful stories in partnership with the local community.

Our target demographics are the everyday visitors of public spaces around LA. We’ve had good responses to our deployments from people of all ages, but have found that our greatest enthusiasm comes from kids. In general, we’ll be focused on locations where families tend to congregate, like parks and museums.

As we prepare for deployments, we’ll conduct temporary playtesting to try out new ideas and get valuable user feedback. Over longer deployments, we’ll be collecting usage statistics and surveys to best understand the ways in which a Perceptoscope deployment impacted that spot over time. This results of this research will be compiled into our final report for National Science Foundation.

Pilot deployments will begin later this summer, and grow throughout the year as we build more units and develop more experiences.

LA is already the best place to CREATE in the world. It’s a city where dreamers all kinds come together to craft our shared future. LA’s unique nexus of media production and physical manufacturing has also allowed for Perceptoscope to be a project that is of, for, and by Los Angeles. We believe that by continuing to focus our energies on building out our LA community, we’ll be able to organically grow the project from deep local roots into a global movement.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Success for Perceptoscope is ultimately measured in our ability to impact a place. We want to increase visitation to our most beloved public spaces, give people new insight into the world around them, and create a sustainable model for these type of stories to continue to be told there.

Understanding our physical impact on a place will happen through usage statistics and pedestrian counting. We hypothesize that Perceptoscope will increase the “stickiness” of a place, drawing in more people and keeping them there longer.

Qualitative insights on what people learned through the experiences will come through surveys and user interviews. We want to understand how to make Perceptoscope easy to use and an effective tool for conveying information.

Sustainability will be measured through revenue potential. We’re experimenting with a social enterprise model that allows for users to make contributions to the project as they interact with it, similar to a traditional coin operated binocular. This revenue is both shared with our partner organization, and fed back into the project to create richer experiences and increase our footprint.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Access to LA2050 community
  • Host public events on the topic your organization’s issue area (e.g. access to capital, education reform, clean energy, etc.)
  • Communications support, including traditional media, social media, and LA2050 newsletter
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Capacity, including staff
  • Strategy assistance and implementation