GE’s Disruption Lab endeavors to tell compelling stories to the consumer public about the future that GE is building for the industrial world. In 2016, the Lab partnered with Type/Code to create a narrative experience about GE’s latest advance in materials engineering — highly resilient Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs). Developed by GE scientists over the last decade, these new super-materials can withstand an unprecedented 2,400ºF operational temperature, and will be instrumental in creating the next wave of more efficient jet engines, wind turbines, and locomotives. To educate the public about these impressive materials, the story of the ‘science of heat’ was born.
In a stroke of delicious genius, GE launched a limited edition, ultra hot sauce: the 10³² Kelvin. Named for the temperature at which all matter breaks down, the painfully hot sauce was contained in the extremely heat-resilient CMCs. To promote this smoking-hot creation, Type/Code was asked to design a launch experience for 10³²K hot sauce at the New York City Hot Sauce Expo. After roasting over a few ideas, Type/Code decided a thermal imaging powered GIF photobooth would be the best way to help people see, taste, and feel the science of heat. On the weekend of the expo, daring participants could taste the hot sauce in front of our custom-branded thermal-imaging photobooth, then share their spicy moments over social media — all while immersed in environmental infographics that unpacked the science behind both thermal imaging, and the advanced materials GE designs to withstand extreme heat.
The Thermal Imaging Photobooth was a hit, and GE decided to take it on the road. Type/Code expanded the activation into the “Brilliant Tailgate Tour,” hitting five college football games across the country to creatively demonstrate GE’s cutting-edge technology to the next generation of potential GE engineers — culminating in a 10-day installation at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.
To provide support for the activation across the duration of the tour, Type/Code developed a robust backend system that allowed the Thermal Imaging Photobooth software to be monitored and managed remotely. To host the streams of shareable images coming in from each event, unique instances of microsites were served based on user location data — providing a destination for participants to find their thermal imaging GIFs and learn more about GE’s industrial innovations.
Each year, GE orchestrates an energy summit for their industrial partners, and in 2017 they hoped to include the Thermal Imaging Photobooth as a new element in the summit, to be held in Florence, Italy. Type/Code reimagined how the experience of heat and imaging might evolve beyond hot sauce, and become relevant to the culture and sensibilities of the host city.
The search for inspiration was brief; Italian coffee proved the perfect new subject for thermal inquiry. The Refuel Café was born, providing summit attendees high-quality coffee with a side of industrial infographics, and an in-depth animated broadcast that explored the science behind the perfect shot of espresso.
After thousands of in-person experiences across the world, tens-of-thousands of media-coverage impressions, and millions of social media impressions, the ‘Science of Heat’ activation campaign was a red-hot success, fulfilling its goal of engaging new audiences with GE’s industrial innovations.