A beacon of enlightenment
With innovation woven into its very fabric, it was clear that technology would play a role throughout Ithra. Hi-tech sound, projection, and lighting; digital information panels; and interactive displays are aspects of each of the Center’s elements. The Idea Lab is an innovation center with a materials library, 3D printers, design exhibitions, and an amphitheater for presentations by innovators, entrepreneurs, and inventors. The museum exhibition Being Saudi features not only digital content about design, poetry, music, and costumes, but presents a unique experience for the visitors. Abdullah Alrashid, head of programming, describes it as “a truly interactive museum exhibition where visitors can literally picture themselves in traditional Saudi costumes, select poems and music, and then email themselves this content as a digital souvenir.”
That the nation is among the top social media consumers in the world – ahead of countries such as the United States, Korea, and Japan – also offers a clear path for reaching out to the people of the Kingdom. Ithra’s mobile app, for example, offers a contextually relevant experience, dissolving distance so that users can stay connected from anywhere. The app includes location-aware push notifications, enabled by Fourth Industrial Revolution technology such as Internet of Things, and implemented via Bluetooth “beacons” placed throughout the building. These beacons, or intricate sensors, broadcast tiny radio signals to a mobile phone, to personalize the Ithra experience, sensing the user’s position in relation to exhibits or galleries.