5 Ingredients for immersive storytelling with technology and space

The definitive guide to crafting engaging multisensory experiences in a physical space with the use of emerging technologies

Maryna Razakhatskaya
Apr 29 · 8 min read

“How might we communicate [ __________ ] without slides?”

While storytelling has always been immersive (think theatre, for example), technology gives us tools to unlock additional senses, boost users’ imagination, spark dialogue, and fuel self-expression.



Physical space becomes the new canvas as we seek more engaging tangible experiences packed with magic.

The craving for multi-sensory experiences with physical objects and spaces has led to the boom of ‘Instagrammable museums’ — Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, The Dream Machine, 29Rooms, etc. — that have used the journey of discovery and fun as a new business model.


HBO’s Westworld Immersive Experience at SXSW, 2018

While designing technology-inspired and technology-enabled immersive experiences at The Dock, I’ve identified five key components that are critical for building interactive experiences in a physical space. These components form a framework that facilitates the design process and can be applied to any space, audience, and theme.

1. Installations

Installations have the power to transform a desert into the largest open-air art gallery in the world during Burning Man festival. In physical space, installations are the highlights of your story, the milestones of user journey.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — Rock Paper Scissors— — — — — — — — — — — — [interactive installation that demonstrates pattern recognition aspect of AI]
— — — — — — — — — — — — —Service of Happiness — — — — — — — — — — —— [interactive installation that responds to human emotions and demonstrates computer vision technology]

2. Intuitive Navigation

The paradigm of design navigation for 2D digital products is well defined. We have UI components, clicks, scrolls, taps and swipes.

  • time of an experience
  • whether it’s a guided or self-discovery experience
  • whether the journey is linear or can be experienced in random order
  • whether it’s an individual or group experience
  • floor markup (stickers, carpets)
  • light systems (interactive lights switching on and off in a dark room guiding users through the journey)
  • audio system (navigation guidance enabled by audio recordings or sound manipulations)
  • human guide (think museum guide, workshop facilitator, actor)
  • gamification (treasure-hunt game principles to move users from point A to point B)
  • and focal points (intuitive navigation enabled by scenery design).

3. Immersion

Immersion is about creating a feeling of being somewhere else, in a certain environment or in a certain context.

4. Interactions

Apart from touch screens, which can be an equal part of an experience in a physical space, the variety of possible interactions with the space is much broader. Input can be taken from:

  • gesture tracking
  • eye tracking
  • computer vision
  • voice
  • touch (see below)
  • and any source of data that can be captured by sensors.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — Wishing Tree — — — — — — — — — — — — — — [interactive touch-audio interface designed to present research insights in The Dock]

5. Souvenir

Of course, if you take someone on a journey with you, you want to make sure they are rewarded and come home with a takeaway.

“8 out of 10 young people would rather spend their hard-earned money on an experience rather than a physical purchase.”

Even if space is not part of your business model, this trend still can be embraced in a form of pop-up experiences, brand activations, client pitch sessions, and trade show experiences. And if you don’t know what to start with, feel free to use the above framework.

Design Voices

A publication for designers, developers and data nerds - from the aspiring to the expert, and anywhere in between. Content created and curated by Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.

Maryna Razakhatskaya

Written by

Creative Technologist building physical-to-digital experiences that might cause delight. http://www.creativetechnologist.london

Design Voices

A publication for designers, developers and data nerds - from the aspiring to the expert, and anywhere in between. Content created and curated by Fjord, design and innovation from Accenture Interactive.