Outernet London and Pixel Artworks have partnered to launch the world’s first mixed reality experience - The Butterfly Trail. The groundbreaking technology, which pushes the boundaries of immersive design, will enable visitors to hold their own butterfly on the tip of their finger in a deeply immersive experience never possible before.

The Butterfly Trail plays every day, for free across the giant floor to ceiling, 4 storey high, 16K wrap around screens at Outernet’s flagship space, The Now Building. 

The Butterfly Trail guides visitors through the intrepid explorer Professor Peter Pelgrin’s Botanical Workshop, into his Glass House where they interact and explore the experience using just their smartphone. Using their phone, visitors are able to release magical AR butterflies and trigger real-time animations. 

Outernet worked with The NeuroNarrative Lab - a partnership between branding agency Brand Directors and UCL neuroscientists, who champion the use of neuroscience to understand engagement & collective experience - to measure how audiences responded to The Butterfly Trail

Participants wore a sensor, and a head-mounted eye tracker to track their moment by moment neuro-physiological response and follow their visual journey.

Peaks and troughs in physiological responses correspond to  engagement within experiences and show the effect of large scale immersive environments, such as Outernet. 

The research found peaks in one participant’s heart rate, for example, as they first entered The Now Building and experienced a surge of excitement, and then a further peak  and they looked around the screen and up into the ceiling

The interactivity in the exhibit also drove engagement and produced distinct peaks in neurophysiological signals. For example, when a virtual butterfly landed on the hand of  one participant, there was a surge in electrodermal activity in their hand, followed by another peak at the moment they took a photo to share on their social channels. 

These peaks in physiology continue during the commercial ad that played in-between the exhibition, with continued engagement during the messaging/CTA, before a final peak during the footage of a partially clothed model. 

Dr Daniel Richardson, a Professor of Experimental Psychology at UCL states that peaks in physiology and engagement lead to deeper encoding and better recall;  and are  associated with higher favourability and more positive evaluations from those that experience them. 

Previous work from Professor Richardson has shown that large displays lead to more visual cortex being engaged, more cognitive focus, higher arousal & better memory. This can be seen when comparing a small screen alone to a cinema screen with others, and shows that Outernet offers an additional step up again in terms of a shared, highly immersive experience. 

“The Outernet Butterfly exhibit produced a noticeably strong neurophysiological response with our students.

The peaks occurred at key moments of the experience and at times of interaction. This was the case even during ad content.

Our work shows that these signals correspond  with higher engagement, memory, evaluation and brand favorability” 

Professor Daniel Richardson, UCL


After less than a year of being open, Outernet is on target to be the number 1 visitor attraction in the UK as footfall continues to grow ahead of long established places such as The Crown Estate, Natural History Museum and The British Museum. 

As part of a Quantitative and Qualitative research piece carried out by 2CV, a number of impactful audiences insights have been established: 

·       Outernet attracts a relatively young audience; the majority of those visiting are under 44, albeit with an average age of 35. 

·       Those visiting are from more affluent backgrounds; three quarters of visitors are ABC1 and income skews slightly higher than average.

·       Brand advocacy is strong - the experience at Outernet is highly enjoyable, with the vast majority reporting that they would recommend Outernet to others (and next to none having a negative experience).

·       47% of visitors are Londoners, however 27% are international tourists, predominantly Europe and USA

·       50% of visitors already have or plan to share content on their channels. 

To find out more about Outernet, visit their website: Outernet London - Home (outernetglobal.com)