The FordHub is billed as an interactive educational experience, but the reality is more difficult to describe. A mix of educational material, video games, and a dash of Ford advertising located in the Westfield World Trade Center mall (also known as the Oculus), the Hub both encourages visitors to imagine the future of transportation and educates them about existing possibilities.
The center display immediately commands attention when entering the space. Right now, it’s an interactive art installation (pictured above) that asks people to depict their ideal travel scenario visually by wrapping a string around pegs. There’s also a wall where participants can push buttons indicating their choices. The information from the buttons is stored, helping Ford determine what their customers want. The center display changes every eight to ten weeks, and the next display will likely involve LEGOs!
The two experiences most geared towards kids are ReGen Racing and Last Mile, both games with educational goals. In ReGen Racing, kids use a hand crank to generate energy that can be stored and released strategically throughout the race. Meanwhile, they learn about the principles involved in electric and hybrid vehicles. In Last Mile, participants steer an onscreen vehicle through three levels with a balance board, collecting as many time, energy, money, and health icons as possible. At the end of the game, kids can see where they rank on the leaderboard, which is sure to get their competitive juices flowing. The game is supposed to teach participants about making choices in their transportation, but it focuses more on fun than education. Results from the games and information from the other experiences can all be saved to HubCards, which are available throughout the space and allow you to review your experience online.
A display featuring 5,412 toy cars, representing the diversity of Ford vehicles, occupies the back room of the Hub. The cars are lit with LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor-based technology, so the display gets brighter as you get closer to it. LIDAR technology is being developed for use in street lamps that will only light up when people are nearby in order to conserve energy. So many guests take photos with the impressive display that one of the FordGuides jokingly referred to it as the “selfie center of the world.” The FordGuides are staff members responsible for providing additional information and generally facilitating the experience.
While younger kids might only be interested in the games, older kids and adults will appreciate the enormous amount of information available throughout the Hub. An exhibit called Finger on the Pulse displays everything from how many NYC buses are en route to the average price of a coffee (for those who can’t get through their commute without a cup of joe). There’s also an entire wall devoted to a screen depicting what a city’s transportation might look like in the future, including everything from roads that can fix their own potholes to a super-fast hyperloop train.
Although most of the experiences aren’t geared toward especially young kids, the FordHub provides coloring sheets and crayons to keep them occupied. When they’re done coloring their creation, parents can download an app that allows them to see the car move on a phone or tablet.
A unique mix of games, educational material, and corporate branding, the FordHub is hard to label. But it’s also a pretty enjoyable (if somewhat brief) experience—definitely worth dropping in if you’re in the area.
For more information, visit fordpass.com!