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10 ways projection can improve your sustainability

Panasonic’s Chad Kunimoto shows how to make attractions greener with laser projection

Liberty Science Centre New York Panasonic

The attractions industry, which added US$51.6 billion to the global economy between 2015–2020, enriches society and culture in ways the world is beginning to fully appreciate in the wake of the pandemic. Yet there is still progress to be made in addressing the environmental cost of making magic happen.

As consumers demonstrate a preference for green products and services, sustainability is becoming a central part of the experiences we create.

PortAventura World, for example, is making waves as the world’s first carbon-neutral resort. Disney is making rapid progress towards its goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2030. Others are investing in food waste and water recycling, renewable energy, and efficient appliances. In 2015, Universal Studios Orlando saved about 2.4 million kilowatt-hours of energy by switching to LED lighting.

With people motivated to get out and have fun as the world reopens, businesses are seeking ways to achieve high sustainability and secure a place in the industry’s recovery.

Since many attractions depend on resource-hungry visual systems, let’s look at 10 ways in which choosing the right laser projector technology can effectively reduce your operating overheads while minimizing the impact on the environment, increasing the sustainability of your project.

1. Simulate the real thing

Natural wonders, even whole ecosystems can be simulated with projectors, allowing guests to interact with the environment without harmful impact. Exotic flora and fauna you can reach out and touch, marine or forest ecologies too fragile to handle tourism traffic, even stars beyond our reach … these are just some of the experiences that projection mapping can provide.

Aqua Roots of Hungary Expo 2020 Dubai projector sustainability
Part of the Aqua Roots of Hungary exhibition at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai showcased how almost any environment—even watery worlds in the desert—can be convincingly and sustainably simulated.

2. Projector sustainability: laser saves energy

The TCO benefits of laser projection are worth highlighting. Brightness decline is controlled, so colours remain uniform without expending resources on calibration. Lamp replacement is history. And most importantly, laser projectors consume a fraction of the energy of lamp projectors.

This 20,000 lm laser projector, for example, uses about 33% less energy than its predecessor released just 10 years ago thanks to a high-efficiency optical engine and power supply.

To show how the savings can scale, this report suggests that 150 GWh of energy per year could be saved in Europe alone if all cinemas switched from lamp to laser projectors. That is the equivalent monthly production of a small nuclear power plant!

3. Less waste, greater reliability

Before the ascent of laser, projection meant keeping large inventories of parts, scheduling downtime for maintenance, and disposing of waste. Today, many DLP projectors feature airtight optical blocks and refined cooling systems that prevent dust ingress without the need for filters. Not only does this reduce waste and maintenance but it also enhances reliability in continuous applications.

While most brands offer some level of dust resistance, others are already looking to the next frontier: improving water and corrosion resistance to enable use in high humidity, marine, or mist environments.

4. Small + light = sustainable

While projectors are the most efficient path to immersive visuals on a grand scale, they can be a burden to transport and handle if the projectors are too heavy for installation crews to manage, therefore having a negative impact on the project’s sustainability.

In response, laser projectors have shrunk dramatically with some models 40% smaller than equivalent predecessors. As well as reducing the time, energy, and cost of system renewal, small and flexible projectors open an exciting world of spatial design possibilities in environments otherwise too small to accommodate a projector.

5. Do more with less

The inverse relationship between body size and brightness is a win for those who want to use fewer projectors without sacrificing image quality, with all the TCO benefits of running a small fleet. Lamp projectors often needed to be stacked to provide enough brightness. However, with the right installation advice, a single laser projector can do the same job.

panasonic olympic games tokyo
The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Tokyo 2020 needed half the number of projectors than previous events to cover a much wider display area

Lenses can also contribute to sustainability. For instance, this fisheye lens delivers full-dome coverage from a single projector where two units were previously required.

6. High compatibility extends life

Repeat business means novelty, and novelty means refreshing your attractions. Updating content or layout doesn’t necessarily mean replacing your fleet. Laser light sources last for about 20,000 hours. So, it’s possible to continue using the same projectors through multiple iterations of an attraction.

To assure high sustainability, it’s important to select a flexible projector that has high compatibility with optional lenses. This ensures that it can be easily adapted to suit different projection applications in the future. Once installed, your projectors should work trouble-free for long periods. For example, check out the projectors at Liberty Science Center in New York, going strong since 2007!

7. A user-friendly interface will save resources

How easy are your projectors to use? What resources can be saved with automated edge-blending? How efficiently can you monitor your devices off-site? Can you save time using NFC when there is no AC power available on site?

warp tram at Outlets Hiroshima projector sustainability
The Warp Tram at The Outlets shopping mall in Hiroshima, Japan, reclaims local history with laser projection

Attraction designers and installers return to certain brands not only for their imaging performance but also because the UX answers these questions, saving resources and making fleet management more sustainable in the long term.

8. Extend service life

If your space has dim lighting, projection at full brightness probably isn’t necessary. Choose a laser projector that includes energy-efficient ECO modes that extend service life beyond 20,000 hours. If you’re planning a multi-screen application, look for colour and brightness correction that can automatically sense changes to the images and make adjustments to keep the whole display uniform without periodic manual calibration.

In addition, some lenses have focus optimizers. These detect changes in content brightness or temperature and correct focus drift, keeping images sharp at all times.

9. No specified toxic substances

Choose an environmentally friendly projector that doesn’t use specified toxic substances such as mercury, lead, or halogenic flame retardants. Lamps can contain mercury and usually require special disposal, which can be a hassle. That’s another easy point in favour of laser.

10. A win for you, a win for the earth

Choose a technology partner with a strong environmental track record, a trusted reputation, and an ambitious vision for the future with respect to sustainability. You should feel confident your values align, and that your capital investment contributes indirectly to environmental sustainability on a global scale.

Projectors secure sustainability for the future

Your projectors will be in almost continuous service for a very long time. So, it’s vital you get the right advice before making a decision to maximize sustainability. Secure a technology partner who understands your site and objectives and can guide you through every aspect of spatial design, from layout planning to on-site support.

Take the first step to making your attraction sustainable here, or contact Chad Kunimoto by email.

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Chad Kunimoto

Chad Kunimoto

Chad Kunimoto is a global business development manager, themed entertainment, for Panasonic Connect. She has over 15 years of global marketing and business development experience, especially with professional audio-visual technology for the themed entertainment industry. With her expertise and insights into trends in this immersive entertainment area, some of her experiences include working together with key partners to create memorable new experiences for guests around the world through Panasonic's cutting-edge technologies.

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