For the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, IOC wanted to create an arena for communication and knowledge sharing between the athletes and other guests from all around the world. It turned out to be a race against the clock.

Date: February 2016
Client: International Olympic Committee
Type: Exhibition / experiment

45 minutes to opening

«Nothing is working.» I sighed and took a sip of the McDonald's Coke Jørgen had just brought me. In less than an hour the Hello World-exhibition was supposed to open for 1100 athletes, 20 000 school children and 200 000 spectators attending the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer.

«We're constantly losing the network connection. I don't think we can use this computer.»

4 weeks to opening

«This is a great opportunity to do something really interesting. However the deadline is quite tight, so we have to make a decision fast.»

Four weeks earlier we sat down for the first workshop with YOG and students from Westerdals Oslo ACT. In the previous games the Hello World-exhibitions were made up of stands with posters and presenters. This year YOG and IOC wanted to challenge that format. Eventually we decided to create an interactive exhibition themed Digital communication transcending borders and languages.

The Westerdals students were given responsibility for the arena, while Railway started experimenting with installations.

Julie presents the interaction design for the group
Sondre, or Ødster as we call him,
is in charge of the prototyping
Thanks to our film making history we
had a lot of lighting equipment to ruin.
All great prototypes are made of cardboard,
duct tape and B&O speakers!

After a couple of weeks of experimentation we agreed on three installations, each inspired by a form of digital communication. We also planned to have a huge screen at the center of the exhibition to visualize a summary of everything that was going on.


Emoji Chat: Get to know the person on the opposite side of the wall through a chat where the only way to type is with emojis. This way everyone will communicate in the same language, and be challenged to express themselves in new ways.


World Tweets: Share and learn in a Twitter inspired feed where visitors tweets on behalf of their countries.


Groupfie Booth: Photos plays an increasingly important role in our personal communication. Say hello to the world through photos of you and your friends.

1 week to opening

«Hello, it's Morten.»

«Hi, Morten. I know you're super busy, and it's areally short notice, but we really need your help.»

The original plan had been to have YOG's local carpenters build the final installations at the venue. However time was running short, and we needed someone who could work by our side, and that we knew would get it right. Our old friend, Morten, was the perfect man for the job.

«Ok then. I guess it's pretty cool to be an Olympic carpenter. But my days are full, so we'll have to work at night.»

This is Morten, working at night. In a couple of hours he
will show up on a construction site for his real job.
Curiosity

Morten is
actually now
a fireman

One of Andreas' favorite parts of the job is
when he can do carpentry with Morten
Getting eight Samsung tablets of the exact same
model is actually more difficult than it sounds.

36 hours to opening

With a trailer filled with nearly finished installations, Andreas drove for Lillehammer. To buy some time I had gone the night before, with all the computers and tablets. The second Andreas parked the car it dawned on him.

«I forgot the fucking signs!»

Andreas quickly returned to Oslo, gave the car to Jørgen who drove straight back to Lillehammer with the signs. This extra operation cost roughly six hours. In the meantime I was struggling with the technology.

Finally the signs go up

44 minutes to opening

«But it seemed fine last night» Jørgen said. 

When we left the venue around 2am the night before we thought we had tackled all the problems. But now they were back. All the installations using tablets were working fine, but the Groupfie Booth, using a Linux computer, was having a hard time staying connected to the wireless network. Due to changes in the infrastructure plans there were no wired connections anywhere close.

«My Macbook seems to have a stable connection, though» I said, mostly to myself. «And I don't think there will be any problems running the software on it.»


It worked. The doors opened and the first group of visitors entered, led by none other than the president of the IOC. I whispered to Jørgen:

«It's funny, huh? A whole month of work, and it get's down to the last 45 minutes»

Young athletes writing World Tweets
The Groupfie Booth is finally working
Phew!

The president
of IOC gives
thumbs up

Who needs text anyway?

During the ten-day event youth from all around the world generated more than 6000 photos, tweets and emoji messages in the «Hello World» tent.

Afterword

Going into the project we saw it first and foremost as an experiment. We didn't know what we would end up making, and when we finally decided what to make we had no idea if people would want to interact with it. I guess many would be scared off by this uncertainty, but IOC and the people from YOG backed us all the way. Only when you accept the risk of failure you are able to explore the unexplored.

Team

Technology Ole Strøm, Sondre Ødegård
Interaction design Julie Elise Hauge
Carpentry Morten Skyttermoen, Andreas Solbakken
Project management Sondre Selbæk, Anne Helle Bjørnødegård
Arena management Mathias Lødøen, Emely Støtvig, Thomas Ransof
Also starring Jørgen Kvalsvik