The CN Tower’s Zoopraxiscope

Dmitry Sokolov

Remember the zoopraxiscope? Zeno Motion believes its basic principle withstands time and the infernal newfangled capability of digital signage as they launch Zeno Motion Panels atop Toronto’s CN Tower.

Zeno Motion Panels

The Zoopraxiscope re-invented

Zeno Motion panels create an animated image using sequential still frames of video transformed via proprietary algorithm into a singular high-resolution backlit lightbox. To experience the animation, the viewer must move along the panels. As the viewing angle to the panel changes, a slightly different image is revealed to the viewer, resulting in an animated experience.  

Zeno Panels are marketed towards venues with narrow hallways and ‘movators’ – anywhere the audience is constrained to move along the panels. Effect is bi-directional and the viewer can ‘control’ the speed and direction of the content by speeding or slowing their approach.

Zeno claims a customized, viewer-controlled experience with 97% recall rate and interactive experience prompting visitors to go and back and forth along the walkway doing a double take – the ‘Zeno Shuffle’.

Zeno MotionThe technology certainly has a novelty factor and attracted attention from the CN Tower visitors throughout the launch event (not just from the event attendees that were there specifically to see the Zeno product in action).

However, it’s a hard sell against conventional digital signage. With all the animation and ‘user-controlled experience’, Zeno is a glorified lightbox, delivering slightly better than .GIF caliber content experience. Limited to one content spot which needs to be replaced manually and at the mercy of the audience direction and traffic flow, it doesn’t always produce perfect final results.

The black bars on the glass (an integral part of the proprietary design creating the animation) detract from the content experience as well.

Finally, with the top 3 commercial LCD manufacturers (LG, NEC and Samsung) marketing the stretched displays, even the long skinny form factor of the display isn’t exactly unique.

Despite any technological shortcomings, Zeno seems to have advertisers convinced – with high-season 4-week rates at the CN Tower starting at $4,500 (including creative) for a meeting room (yes, imagine the foot traffic there) and a whopping $26,000 on the premium entrance ramp space, Zeno is pitching at a premium compared to the typical run of-the-mill digital signage network.

Rogers has already signed up as the major sponsor of the CN Tower panels. Apple, Ford and Coke are also listed as clients on other Zeno projects.

The bottom line, if Zeno can sell the space and the technology to major brands and agencies, certainly the cost of content updates is not an issue. Best of luck.

One Response to “The CN Tower’s Zoopraxiscope”

  1. Bryan Crotaz Says:

    O2 did a very similar campaign a while back using the same effect (just a lenticular lens – it’s not magic) but using backlit posters. There were 5 or so images in the sequence showing the signal bars commonly associated with a mobile signal strength, illustrated using tower blocks, lego bricks and other cleverly manipulated photographs. With the resolution of poster print it was spectacular.

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