Information in Disguise - Engaging the Pedestrian

Information in Disguise - Engaging the Pedestrian


L Doyle, K Moriwaki, M O'Mahony, Trinity College Dublin, IE



As many cities become more crowded and more congested the daily journey to work tends to create added stress for the commuter. And for those who only spend time in the city as part of that journey to work, it can often be difficult to feel a sense of identity with the surrounding city space. There are thousands of people who make such journeys through the city every day. They follow habitual repeated patterns, are very familiar with their chosen routes but yet are disconnected from their environment and from the surrounding city. The main purpose of our research is to make the urban space a more engaging place, for those people who move through it on a daily basis, through the use of digital technology. In particular in this paper we focus on the pedestrian and present experiments that use traffic and traveller data in a novel way to both engage and inform the pedestrian. Our work shows that the application of qualitative factors in the delivery and presentation of data can provide the public with a better-integrated and effective means of utilizing utilitarian information without adding to the already crowded and stressful daily experience of life in the city.

The paper focuses on two experiments namely 'Keeping Time' and 'The Handbag'. Both of these present diverse alternatives to current methods of traffic and traveller data collection, visualisation and presentation. The systems interact with the user and present traveller information using a novel approach that exploits wireless networks and sensors in an unobtrusive and artistic manner. 'Keeping Time' presents an alternative to traditional public transport timetables and 'The Handbag' allows pedestrians to trace their movements over the day.

Keeping Time 'Keeping Time' in a simple sense is a system for delivering real-time travel information in a locally sensitive and contextually relevant manner. It is intended to be placed at a point of passage and not to impose itself on the environment. As a pedestrian or traveller passing through the point of passage (e.g. side of the road, bus-stop, train depot) individuals can glean both an understanding of the current state of a transport system and experience brief amusement. As both artefact and information delivery system, 'Keeping Time' is a playful alternative to timetables and scales. In its present embodiment 'Keeping Time' maps the real-time flow of public transport to different visual representations. 'The Handbag' This experiment is based around the metaphor of a bag containing and collecting valuables throughout the day. 'The Handbag' can function as a traditional accessory but can also collect virtual information as the wearer of the handbag moves through the city.

The collected information will depend on mobility of the wearer, the route taken by the wearer, the time of day etc. The information itself consists of audio clips that relate to and reflect the experience of the wearer of The Handbag in the city. The clips are released (played back) at the wearer?s leisure simply by opening 'The Handbag'. The clips form a diary of the wearer?s movement for that day. 'Keeping Time' uses real-time public transport data to trigger a representational display (sensor controlled) of other entities such as light and weather. 'The Handbag' makes use of a city-based wireless network to deliver the information to the user. 'The Handbag' itself is embedded with a transceiver that collects the audio clips and sensors in bag detect when it is opened and when playback of collected clips are triggered.

The paper focuses on the aesthetic, technical and social aspects of the design of the systems and analyses their effectiveness.


Association for European Transport