Siirry sisältöön
Experience Economy
Revolutionizing learning and commercial spaces with immersive XR technology

Since 2016, Haaga-Helia students have been assigned to think, design, iterate, and present their assignments in the multisensory extended reality environment of theBox.


Pasi Tuominen

hotelli-, ravintola- ja matkailualan liiketoiminnan kehittämisen lehtori
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 14.06.2024

Nestled within Haaga-Helia’s Haaga campus lies an innovative concept that is transforming the way we experience and interact with commercial environments and educational content. This cutting-edge Extended Reality (XR) concept and Immersive Learning Environment is redefining the boundaries of digital engagement through the integration of various advanced technologies.

At its core, theBox exemplifies the power of immersive, multi-sensory experiences. By harnessing the capabilities of spatial augmented reality (sAR) it ventures into the realm of Extended Reality Environments (XRE) with unprecedented depth. The environment within theBox is meticulously crafted, featuring pre-programmable and scripted chromatic atmospheres that draw upon a rich knowledge base of soundscape, psychoacoustics, sensory stimulation, haptic feedback, and augmented reality. This holistic approach creates an unparalleled immersive experience that captivates the senses and transports users to meticulously crafted virtual worlds.

Engaging experiences on a global scale

Over the past eight years, theBox has created over 500 installations across 21 countries, significantly impacting the tourism and hospitality sectors. By utilizing 3D video mapping, advanced spatial soundscapes, and scent-marketing techniques combined with staging, theBox has enhanced various tourism and hospitality settings, enriching the visitor experience with its innovative approach.

Notably, theBox has assisted Visit Finland in promoting the country at numerous international exhibitions and events, including ITB Berlin, World Winter Sports Expo in Beijing, and World Expo in Dubai. Additionally, in partnership with Lapland Safaris, theBox has taken Santa Claus international with its Virtual Elf’s House concept, showcasing its ability to create immersive and engaging experiences on a global scale.

Picture shows man prototype testing in theBox at Dubai World Expo 2021.

Picture 1. Future Study Path Visualisation for Dubai World Expo 2021 (prototype testing in theBox)

Immersive learning in the center of curricula

Educationally, theBox has proven to be an invaluable asset, providing immersive learning experiences to over 3,000 students at both Bachelor and Master levels in hospitality, tourism, and experience management. theBox has a strong presence in the Hospitality and Tourism Management and Culinary Management curricula.

Beyond ad-hoc assignments in various courses, five specific courses utilize theBox environment and related technologies on yearly basis.

  1. Event Management (Porvoo): The yearly Kekri event is a significant part of this course. With the help of theBox, students use advanced computers/mediaservers, 3D mapping software, and audiovisual production and presentation equipment to create world-class immersive experiences at the Suomenlinna UNESCO World Heritage site.
  2. Experience Management (Haaga): Student creations include the Eurovision Song Contest live at Haaga campus, a Haunted House Escape Room, and campsite setups, showcasing the innovative potential of theBox.
  3. Food Experience (Haaga): Culinary management students have developed narrative food experiences for Hotel Kämp, considering menus, visuals, sounds, scents, and staging. In 2024, they were tasked with designing an immersive Helsinki-themed food experience for the Michelin star celebrations at the Helsinki City Hall.
  4. Restaurant Project: Diverse themes such as Swamp Dinner, Mexican Fiesta, Anime Bar and underwater seafood experiences illustrate the extensive use of theBox in creating unique dining experiences.
  5. Food Tourism (Haaga): In collaboration with Hungry4Finland, theBox serves as a stage for students’ presentations of their course projects, transporting guests to places like the archipelago, Finnish Lapland, and natural mushroom forests.

Knowledge dissemination and network building

Starting with the initial Box-project and its numerous subsequent derivatives, the research team has developed expertise in transforming existing audio-visual material into immersive 360 formats, creating bespoke multimedia and video productions for immersive environments, developing holographic projections, and advancing user interface development.

In recent years, the network of theBox immersive learning environments has grown. With the guidance of Haaga-Helia specialists, new technologies, storytelling, and experience design have been blended to create immersive learning environments for students and professionals in tourism, hospitality, and experience sectors.

This expansion includes partnerships with five universities in the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Estonia. These collaborations have opened up new project opportunities on a global scale, leveraging the strengths of previous partnerships to further enhance the reach and impact of theBox.

TheBox has a strong footprint in research, development, and innovation (RDI) projects. For example, the XREXP -project builds on the knowledge gained from previous demonstrations and student prototypes, applying modern XR technologies to famous museums and visitor attractions in the Helsinki area. This not only showcases the advanced capabilities of theBox but also creates new opportunities for global collaboration and development in the field of immersive technologies.

Main picture: Haaga-Helia