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There has been a lot of talk over the last decade or so about the possibility of not only colonizing space, but eventually colonizing the oceans with floating cities. Although I’m not entirely sure this is a good idea given that humans have already had a significant negative impact on our planet’s aquatic system, without living on top of them, the concept is certainly an interesting one to think about.

Recently Sony’s creative agency, FP7/DXB,  took things a step or two further than this by building the world’s very first underwater store. The store–which was only open for three days, located off the coast x4of The World Islands, Dubai–was more of a promotional undertaking and advertising tactic than an actual concept of where the future is headed. Certainly the future of shopping isn’t going to require scuba gear and the ability to swim, but Sony’s recent launch of their Xperia Aquatech store was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those lucky enough to pay a visit.

Although the Grand Opening, and shortly following Grand Closing, of the underwater location took place over four months ago, details are finally emerging about the interior of the store and how it was all made.

If you are familiar with Sony’s Xperia line of smartphones and tablets, then you know that many of them are waterproof for up to 1.5 meters in depth. This feature was what inspired their creative agency, FP7/DXB, to place a store under the sea. The actual structure of the store may not be the most impressive and awe-inspiring part of anyone’s scuba trip to the location. Sony teamed with Dubai-based Paradigm 3D, a 3D printing service provider and part of the Red Eye Global Direct Digital Manufacturing Network.

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Working together they brainstormed ideas, as Sony wanted customized holders for all their devices within the underwater store. Finally the two companies decided that a creative idea such as this required creative holders which would make a surefire statement to those who pay a visit. What better a way to display the various waterproof Xperia devices in an underwater shop than with coral-like holders?x5

That’s just what they did. Paradigm 3D fabricated numerous coral-like holders all custom made to perfectly fit each Xperia device, holding them securely in place so that they wouldn’t flop over into the sea and wash away. Interestingly enough, although the devices were all waterproof, they are only rated for fresh water, not salt, and can only withstand up to 1.5 meters of depth, whereas the depth of the Sony store was estimated at close to 4 meters. Additionally, the holder had to be robust enough to withstand the hazardous salty environment, all the while looking fantastic.

Printing with Stratasys machines and ABS thermoplastic, Paradigm 3D seemed to hit the nail on the head with these pieces, as visitor after visitor seemed thoroughly impress by what they saw, especially once they found out that the holders were all customized via 3D printing.

Although we likely won’t be seeing strip malls within our oceans any time soon, this was certainly a creative advertising initiative, and incredibly useful application for 3D printing. Let’s hear your thoughts on this unique idea in the 3D Printed Coral forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the videos below for further information on this aquatic masterpiece:

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