IBM RESEARCH
Play!

IBM SHARES THE JOY OF SCIENCE

Built with low-tech hardware, fueled by real--time social media data, and webcasted in a three-week live event, IBM Research's Play Machine helped a new generation of creative young minds see innovation the way IBM inventors do—as play!          

Selected honors:  
Cannes Lion, Webbty, Clios                                  

VIDEO: IBM - Play! - integrated social campaign


Science starts out fun.
But then it gets serious, formulaic, sterile.

What if we taught science
the way top scientists see it? 

As... 


Our brains are wired to play.

It was a untold secret of IBM research and development labs—that many of IBM's best inventions from LASIK eye surgery to Watson came through play.


Meet John Cohn.

This IBM Fellow, reality TV star and Internet of Things guru made it to the top of his field by maintaining his playful spirit. He helped develop the microchips that go into video game systems—and in his spare time— a Burning Man ferris wheel car, Steampunk-powered smoke machines and a crowd-controlled musical instrument for a famous jam band.

DOCUMENTARY: Watch a real mad scientist at play.


With John's help, we took the joy of science out of the IBM lab, and on to Tumblr and the streets of NYC, in an art (+ science) experiment.

IBM presents the Play Machine

A playfully-built contraption that turned social media clicks into real-time physical actions. In a live Tumblr webcast.


Social engagement on IBMblr, IBM's innovation culture blog on Tumblr, brought the low-tech components come to life:

Like to Pop
and send a popcorn kernel
tumbling to the heat gun.

 Reblog to WHACK
and watch the machine
destroy itself.

Share to SPIN
and see your location on a laser-mounted globe and LED fan display.

 

Follow to PRINT
and inscribe your Tumblr I.D.
 

 Surveillance Monitors
displayed live data, science GIFs and extreme close ups of the action.

 

Three weeks of surprising science GIFs fueled the fun.

We took the wisdom, experiments and side projects of IBM Researchers and redesigned them be shared. See the gallery →

The PLAY Experiments | No. 2 In the workplace or the research lab, adding a little Play to the mix often yields surprising results. The same can be said inside this Erlenmeyer flask. Here we have some ordinary dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring. But add a touch of potassium iodine, and a dash of play, and presto— Elephant toothpaste. Time to brush!

The PLAY Experiments | No. 2
In the workplace or the research lab, adding a little Play to the mix often yields surprising results. The same can be said inside this Erlenmeyer flask. Here we have some ordinary dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring. But add a touch of potassium iodine, and a dash of play, and presto— Elephant toothpaste. Time to brush!

INSIDE THE INVENTIVE MIND
Matt Ganis
IBM Social Media Analytics 
Olympian Internet Firewall Creator

“I think we learn as we play – the silly experiments we come up with today could be at the core of very serious solutions we develop tomorrow.”


The more likes, shares, follows & reblogs the more the Play Machine popped, twirled, printed & whacked.


A live webcast took
the joy of science global.


Broadcasted to the world from a
storefront in NYC's Lower East Side.


"It is not every day I get to geek out this hard."  @Itisfuninthesun

"Honestly, this is what tweeting and sharing is for" @BKare

"IBM is showing us how they embody innovation & invention instead of just telling us." @philippetwits

 

17+ million Tumblr impressions
3╳ engagement benchmarks for brands
⇧  100% increase in IBMblr followers


By sharing IBM Research's playful side, we helped a new generation reimagine what science can be,