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Transforming Mobile Phones into a Crowd-Sourced Interactive Display

Client: Sports Venue Engagement Concept


Inspired by the opening ceremonies at the recent Olympics, the Emerge team set out to create the ultimate audience engagement platform using the smartphones of the audience members. We prompted the question of what the smartphone can do to not just improve the experience for its owner, but for everyone in the stadium–particularly if there are thousands of phones that are linked together.


The goal is to combine 20,000+ iPhone and Android screens to create a single display that spans the entire seating area of the venue. We were guided by the vision of a basketball arena with dimmed lights before the game and 20,000 roaring fans holding up their phones. This would turn the stands into a massive full-color screen. For example if a venue has 50 rows—each with 500 seats—then with everyone in the audience holding up their phone we would have a “display” resolution of 500px by 50px, enough to create some fun animations.


We were able to prove the concept by creating a cross-device mobile app that synchronized animations from a central server. Each phone corresponded to a specific location on the animation grid, much like an audience member would enter their seat location when first opening the application.

We also developed the control software to load animations and map them to the seat maps of larger stadiums. Animations are imported from animated GIFs, which can be swapped out on the fly.

We’re excited to take this concept to production, and work with partners who are being challenged to bring new innovation to their venues and enhance the experience of audiences. Learn more about this project in our Insights section.