OakleyWhen people enter 900 North Michigan Shops on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, they may catch a glimpse of birds flying above the seven levels of high-end retail and dining. Except those aren’t real birds and that isn’t really the sky overhead. Created by New York-based ESI Design, the ceiling is, in fact, a 190-foot-long digital canopy of high-resolution LED displays, designed to draw visitors through the mall with eye-catching, high-resolution content, including lifelike, computer-generated flocks.

Such digital experiences increasingly permeate public life. What has come to be called “media architecture” — integrated audiovisual (AV) technology and lighting systems in the built environment — is a growing specialty influencing the design of retail spaces. The right combination of content, space, technology helps companies engage, inform, and entertain consumers in ways they couldn’t before.

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