Holiday shoppers eager to test their aerodynamics and learn about fuel efficient technology are in luck this year -- Buick has a display at the temporary Wired Store in Times Square that includes mobile video and a human wind tunnel.
These attraction showcases the 2012 Buick LaCrosse's eAssist technology, which uses regenerative braking, lithium-ion battery technology, optimized aerodynamics, engine start-stop and fuel shut-off to deliver an estimated 36 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Wired Store includes more than 200 of the hottest new products, including the LaCrosse, as selected by the eponymous Conde Nast magazine. Buick is the store's presenting sponsor.
Store visitors can learn about the vehicle through tablet computers and videos accessed around the LaCrosse at six points. The video content is available through Aurasma, a platform technology that uses real-world visual cues to deliver content to mobile devices. Buick has ten iPads for the eAssist tour. According to Don Peasley, VP and account director at Leo Burnett Detroit, which created the display, notes Buick is trying to make itself more appealing to a younger male demographic. Hence the videos are narrated by a young woman who coos at viewers and drops words like "sexy."
Peasley calls the high-touch demo "a more human approach to technology." He also notes store lighting affected accessibility and staffers had to make some last-minute adjustments for the video features to work properly.
But Buick's coup de grace is clearly its Human Wind Tunnel, which looks almost like a small shipping container, but with a glass side that displays the aerodynamic tests within.
Prior to braving the wind tunnel, users must sign a release form and give their height in inches. Then they put on googles, stand on a scale and grip a bar as winds up to 40 miles per hour begin to blow on them. A countdown timer starts up and then two images are captured – including what Peasley says is called "wind tunnel face."
According to Buick, each participant's drag coefficient is displayed on an in-store leader board, along with a list the top 10 most aerodynamic individuals of the day. Wind Tunnel Face photos are posted on Buick's Facebook fan page. As of Tuesday, there were about 50 photos in the album. Buick has 126,000 fans.
Peasley admits he wasn't sure how the New York crowd would react to the wind tunnel, which was built in Detroit, but says 150 people lined up to try it out at the launch party on November 17. He says the firm brought 5,000 pairs of throw-away goggles based on an estimate of how many people would try out the tunnel at the temporary store.
Buick is promoting the event on Twitter with hashtags like #wiredstore and #wiredinsider, Peasley says.
This is the seventh year Wired has had a temporary store. It will be open noon to 7:00 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays through December 24, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day.
The Wired Store is located at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway and has more than 10,000 square feet of consumer gadgets and technology displays.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT