National Geographic Einstein’s Chalkboard

To promote the launch of National Geographic’s new TV show Genius about the life of Albert Einstein, we transformed his iconic chalkboard into an interactive robotic artist, recreating user-submitted photos using Einstein’s handwriting and equations. This interactive technological spectacle made its debut at SXSW.

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Challenge

National Geographic wanted to develop an engaging, smart, and innovative experiential activation that generated buzz around the launch of Genius at SXSW and beyond.

Strategy

Since the chalkboard is one of the most visually iconic ways that Einstein communicated his ideas with the world, we decided to use this as the foundation for a memorable, buzz-worthy experience that directly ties into the show’s themes of innovation and pays homage to the genius’s love of both science and art.

Execution

We equipped Einstein’s Chalkboard with a computer-controlled, motorized arm that turns ordinary, user-submitted selfies into art. The Chalkboard uses an algorithm that converts images into Einstein’s words and equations to make up the portrait.

The Chalkboard recreated selfies in real time at National Geographic’s Further Basecamp at SXSW. To extend the experience beyond SXSW, we also created a digital component where users could submit their selfies via the hashtag #GeniusBoard to receive back an animated GIF of their photo transformed into uniquely-Einstein chalk art. The installation was extremely popular at the festival, resonating with the smart, tech-forward SXSW audience, and it received attention from press like The Verge, AdWeek and Creativity.