To celebrate the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s once again tapped Helios to come up with a fun, vibrant, interactive experience for their holiday window displays. The goal was to create a digital experience allowing consumers to interact with a ‘virtual parade’ with gestures. Users could wave their hands in front of the display to sprinkle confetti, open doors, trigger videos, and activate various character animations within the scene. Over the course of the two week run, the experience received over 250,000 OTS impressions with thousands of participants.


Client: Macy’s
Launched: November 2013
Event Duration: 2 weeks
Project Video Music: “Bees Bein’ Strugglin'” by The Octopus Project

UI Design: Helios Interactive
Front End Development: Helios Interactive
Technology Integration: Helios Interactive



Storefront windows always present some environmental challenges: Infrared interference, camera color correction, and having the screen behind double-pane class prevents some interactive technologies. We opted to use a computer vision technique called Optical Flow. By using a standard 2D camera, the computer vision breaks the pixels to determine the direction pixels are moving as well as the velocity. We used this data to generate Confetti Particles and interact with the environment. A paralaxing scene class was made for OpenFrameworks which allowed for an infinite tiling background to move at various speeds. Due to the high number of image sequences, we had to get creative and save some video memory. We created a system that allowed us to move images quences along a Path to avoid storing large sequences of mostly transparent pixels.​


Hardware: 1080p web cam, custom built PC
Software: openFrameworks, Optical Flow
Screen: 46″ LCD

Project Development: 2-3 weeks