Home Lifestyle Library of the Future Introduces the Region’s First ‘Phygital’ Experience

Library of the Future Introduces the Region’s First ‘Phygital’ Experience

by Eddie Rayner

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has partnered with Injazat, a market leader in Digital Transformation, Cloud, and Cyber Security, to co-create a first-of-its-kind ‘phygital’ user interface for the House of Wisdom, Sharjah’s new cultural edifice and an iconic architectural marvel situated near the University City of Sharjah. It helps to celebrate the emirate’s yearlong tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital 2019.

Allowing House of Wisdom-goers a seamless transition from the library’s physical space to digital technologies and back, this Shurooq – Injazat collaboration has introduced a new dimension to customer experience, something that has never been seen before in libraries and cultural hubs in the region.

Following UNESCO’s announcement to make Sharjah the World Book Capital, its leadership decided to celebrate the appointment by building a new library designed for a unique user experience fit for the digital age. Leveraging the experience and skills of a global and multi-disciplinary team, Shurooq has been able to marry cutting edge designs with the most innovative technologies, making the Foster + Partner-designed building one of the most stunning and engaging cultural destinations in the GCC region.

A new dimension to customer experience

Overseeing the entire project, HE Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said: “At Shurooq, our ambition for over 10 years has been to facilitate social, cultural, environmental and economic development in Sharjah by enhancing the emirate’s appeal in a variety of fields. Therefore, when we started the House of Wisdom project, we were driven by the goal of completely redefining the library goer’s experience by offering them a social space that did not yet exist in the UAE or the wider region. We achieved this goal by relying on avant-garde architectural design and integrated House of Wisdom’s physical spaces with smart, intuitive and extremely user-friendly technologies.

“Our partnership with Injazat for this milestone project is a reflection of a shared ambition of two like-minded entities that are keen on contributing to the nation’s progress in vital sectors like culture, education, and technological innovation. Our collaboration has led to an extraordinary feat in the customer experience arena, too – something that will lead future innovations in the field for several years. The biggest benefits of this collaboration will be availed by seekers of knowledge who will be able to access and interact with the library’s resources in a seamless fashion.”

To conclude, the Shurooq Executive Chairman remarked: “Our shared success in creating an exciting and engaging ‘phygital’ experience is reflected in the steady stream of visitors to House of Wisdom since we opened our doors to the public.”

The House of Wisdom technology experience starts from the home, where the visitor can interact with the House of Wisdom viewing offerings from the library to booking a space or an event through the website or the app. This gives members many interaction points and allows them to create a profile for themselves and their respective families. In the building, interactions happen with multiple touchpoints throughout the library that allow for smartphone interactions with totems. This allows visitors to conduct searches and make bookings. Transparent screens givie visitors a hologram-like history lesson by the likes of Al-Khwarizmi; a ‘Fab Lab’, equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters and a ‘Smart’ touch wall for interactive learning or working sessions with other users across the world; and a dedicated Kids Area offering fun learning experiences to youngsters. All of this is complemented and enriched by the strategic deployment of IoT, AI and Robotic technologies to enable facial recognition, smart parking and tracking for children, making the overall experience truly entertaining, as well as secure.

“The House of Wisdom one of the smartest buildings in the UAE and the region”

Speaking about the technology platform deployed as part of the project, Khaled Al Melhi, CEO at Injazat, said: “A complex project of which I am truly proud of, the House of Wisdom is a textbook example of what can be achieved when the efforts of multiple stakeholders, all with different capabilities and experience but a shared ambition, are effectively orchestrated to generate a positive experience for the community. What at first seemed an impossible challenge, Injazat was able to turn into a successful project through our ability to bring together many different workstreams and partners. What we have created is a flexible and scalable platform able to deliver digital experiences fully integrated with the physical spaces thanks to the adoption of best-in-class technologies, which makes the House of Wisdom one of the smartest buildings in the UAE and the region.

“Our distinctive approach of combining design thinking and agile principles, as well as the ability to leverage our global ecosystem of technology partners, has been an integral part in the success of the project. The House of Wisdom will serve as yet another example of how Injazat fulfils its purpose of Empowering Human Achievement by supporting all of our clients from across different industries, including Healthcare, Education, Smart Cities, Energy and Utilities, on their digital transformation journey.”

The House of Wisdom opened its doors to visitors in December 2020. For more information, please visit www.houseofwisdom.ae.