The International Spy Museum gives visitors the opportunity to live the life of a spy. Through individualized technology, the organizers place the visitor at the heart of the action, engaging them in an experiential personalized lesson in spying where they become part of the exhibit by taking part in a real live spy mission.
Instead of passively viewing static displays, visitors take on the role of a spy in an immersive, interactive personalized experience – an ‘Undercover Mission’ that tests and records their individual espionage skills in an exciting, educational ‘gaming’ environment.
The experience uses Ultra-High Frequency RFID to engage and track visitors throughout their personal spy mission. They test their spycraft skills through a range of 16 interactive exhibits that provide multiple opportunities for visitors to connect to their mission through a personalized, interactive lanyard. At the end of the exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to receive a personalized debrief on how they performed during their mission.
By offering a combination of museum and personalized game, interactive and immersive experiences draw visitors into the world of this centuries-old profession, giving them an unrivaled opportunity to learn at first hand what it takes to be a spy.
Electrosonic fused architecture, storytelling and technology to take visitors on the mission. A brief interrogation at Reception determines each visitor’s mission, cover identity and individual level of expertise. The information is used to personalize their spy profile, which is stored on the interactive lanyard.
Their mission is to complete a series of tasks by analyzing clues, maintaining cover, finding and contacting sources and collecting intel — all by interacting with immersive exhibits throughout the Museum. Each time they interact, their performance is monitored and recorded to build a mission profile that measures their personal success as a spy. Personalized RFID technology allows each visitor to interact in different ways with the various challenges and experience an infinite variety of tasks each time, which they can change each time they visit the Museum.
The undercover mission begins in the Spies and Spy Masters Gallery where displays of spycraft tools bring stories of the intelligence services to life using artifacts, media, audio and first-person storytelling to bring visitors face-to-face with spies and their masters and the tradecraft of stealing secrets.
One of the highlights of the mission is ‘Red Teaming’ - an interactive experience in which visitors participate in an exercise that CIA analysts used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Visitors become the analysts using the technique of red teaming to evaluate theories, challenge conclusions and ensure the highest confidence in actionable data.
Through video and audio they examine a model of the compound where Osama Bin Laden might be hiding. Their role is to make a decision based on the intelligence analysis they receive. Should the team raid the compound or stand down? Using deductive reasoning, interactive gaming, soundscape and film, ‘Red Teaming’ is an exhilarating look at the real-life executive decision process.
The ‘Sneaking into Berlin’ challenge makes extensive use of hidden low-light cameras, motion detection and RFID technology to detect and identify individual visitors. Careful positioning of RFID aerials and discreet integration with the exhibits demonstrates the power of surveillance. In one example, an image captured during ‘Sneaking into Berlin’ is displayed on another exhibit later in the visitor’s mission.
The result is a stunning, engaging experience that’s bigger and bolder than ever, giving visitors an experiential journey through espionage. The experience leverages a customizable and interactive ‘Undercover Mission’ and tells stories in a cutting-edge and future-proof way through innovative new media and digital technologies. From asset recruitment and tool selection to analysis and decision making, it’s an exhilarating, and fun, personal journey through the intelligence process.
To deliver the experience, Electrosonic selected, installed and integrated over 1300 pieces of individual audiovisual equipment, including RFID receivers, interactives, touchscreens, audio systems, custom control software, projectors, screens and media servers.
All of the technology that makes the experience holistic was integrated in such a way that not a single element detracts from the powerful narrative, interactive and educational experience. This technology was particularly relevant and important because successful espionage also depends on effective technology.
As Electrosonic’s Chris Cooper points out, “Using the combination of RFID and interactives gives each individual a sense of purpose, with the end result being something special.”
While interactivity is integral to the visitor’s mission and technology is an essential tool of spycraft, the owners did not want the technology to be obvious or interfere with the immersive experience. Hidden technology was essential and the installations had to be reliable and easy to use. The visitor’s experience also had to form a seamless journey. This required careful positioning of RFID aerials and discreet integration with the exhibits.
While ‘spies’ can complete all tasks on a single visit, the RFID technology is extremely flexible. It is personalized to each visitor and tasks can be modified to provide infinite variety and encourage return visits.
The result is no ordinary museum. Electrosonic collaborated with content providers to ensure that exhibits made the most of audiovisual and interactive technologies to tell the story in an immersive experiential way. Throughout the five-story Museum, interactive and immersive exhibits let visitors experience on their own terms what it takes to be an officer, agent or analyst working in the shadows, sometimes with life or death consequences.
The personalized experience created by Electrosonic has helped the owners relaunch in their new home and present spycraft in a way that appeals to many different age groups and combines education with entertainment in a way that no static museum exhibits could match. This exciting combination has made the International Spy Museum a must-see destination.
Innovative personalized technology engages visitors of all ages and helps meet the owners’ aim and personal passion of raising greater awareness of the contribution of espionage. Personalized RFID technology encourages visitors to return for more and that has helped to attract larger audiences and more repeat visits, making it the most successful paid museum in the United States.
International Spy Museum, Washington DC
Best Individualized Experience