ARUP Behrens

Winner of the 2015
No.8 @ Arup award

We propose an interactive cocoon weaved out of a translucent fabric that turns the atrium into a stage for social encounter. The aim is to foster the notion of an atrium as the social centre of a building. Our focus is the exploration of architectural form, translucent materials and responsive lighting to facilitate social interaction. We collect people’s sentiments and materialise them into light and fibre. Read more: No8_at_Arup Award


Overview Work

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SCSD at European Capital of Culture

How do the citizens of Riga actually feel about their city? What do they think about urban topics that concern the development, public transport, environment, safety and culture of their city? As part of the Participatory City, initiated by the Connecting Cities Network, Staro Riga Festival invited us to show our work.

The project called Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard (SCSD) is an interactive and participatory installation that lets citizens engage with and comment on urgent urban challenges concerning the city of Riga. The SCSD project aims to translate citizen feedback into a visual language, which is displayed on a large LED display. The media facade and its surrounding turn into a stage for social encounter where citizens meet and urban challenges can be discussed.

Staro Riga Festival

During the Staro Riga Festival the installation was set up on a busy pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Marijas Iela and Satekles Iela, which is close to the Riga main train station. The visualization was displayed on a large mobile screen facing towards Satekles Iela, and the sentiment dashboard was set up in front. The installation ran daily in between 6pm and 11pm starting Friday, 14 November 2014 and finished at the National Independence Day on Tuesday, 18 November. During the five days of deployment, in which the installation was running for five hours each evening, the interactive system tracked approximately 1600 interactions.

The Dashboard

The motivation was to develop, design and deploy a situated and tangible system that mediates collaborative interactions in public spaces whilst focusing on accessibility and affordance. In other words, the interface should be understandable and easy to use for people. The employed technology makes use of existing ‘Radio frequency identification’ (RFID) as known from smart card technology such as the e-talon in Riga. We build on the widely spread use of these unique ID tags for payless travel purposes, as a large proportion of citizens of Riga carries an e-talon in their pocket. Consequently the use of these cards is a recurring embodied interaction in the smart city. At the same time every interaction is uniquely identifiable and therefore traceable. Our aim was to allow people to use their ID tags beyond technical purposes and express their mood and opinion about specific issues in the technology mediated urban realm. Hence the Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard (SCSD) enables participants to express their mood about urgent urban challenges in the city of Riga. The challenges were defined as follows: 1) ATTĪSTĪBA (development), 2) TRANSPORTS (transport), 3) VIDE (environment), 4) DROŠĪBA (safety) and 5) KULTŪRA (culture). By switching a knob on the device participants are able to choose one of the aforementioned categories. By swiping their RFID token (i.e. e-talon) across one of the two emoticons (happy or sad) their mood was transmitted onto the LED display. The SCSD affords three folded interactions: 1) switching: 5 categories can be selected through a rotary switch; 2) swiping: after choosing the category, the electronic ID card needs to be swiped over one of the three mood states (happy, indifferent, sad); 3) pushing: finally a simple push-button (Red Button) allows users to view the overall feedback of all collected moods.

The Visualization

We chose a visualization technique that combines the “seriousness” of the topic with the more accessible style of popular info-graphics. The visualization consists of an abstract sunburst representation, of which each burst corresponds to the sentiment of an individual participant towards the currently selected urban challenge. Each urban challenge is encoded by a different color and an icon representation. Upon switching the rotary knob, the sunburst visualization corresponding to the specific urban challenge, and colored accordingly appears on the facade.

The sentiment ‘value’ for each participant (happy, un-happy) is graphically encoded through the length of the corresponding burst: the longest burst represents a positive sentiment towards the urban challenge at hand, while the shortest corresponds to a negative statement. Our choice for this circular visualization technique was also motivated by its scalability, which allows for an arbitrary number of people to participate and be visually represented. We considered this flexibility a desirable feature in the context of urban environments, often characterized by highly variable and open-ended, and unpredictable flux of people and interactions.

Animations

The integration of dynamic visual cues can make visualizations richer, more vivid and therefore easier to understand. Accordingly, our visualization shows a dynamically animated circle over the sunbursts in order to convey the average participants’ sentiment for the given urban challenge. Each new burst from a participant visually appears with a smooth animation and bouncing effect, to highlight the recording of fresh data. A new entry is displayed in a white color to unambiguously distinct it from the rest of the graphical representation. Shortly after it is smoothly taken over by the color of its respective urban challenge.

The Red Button

In order to provide citizens with an overview of previously submitted sentiments, and a more interactive approach to exploring the installation, we integrated a ‘Red Button’ at the bottom of the interface. When pushing this button, a dynamic visualization of the average feedback for all available urban challenges is represented on the facade. As mentioned above, each urban challenge is represented by its corresponding color, and occupies a different part of the circular shape proportionally to the relative participation rate of the according challenge. We aimed to create a simple, playful, yet meaningful approach to enable citizens and participants alike to make a deeper sense of the installation, and the underlying participation results: people can gain insight about which urban challenge is most attractive to vote for, and what is the average sentiment about it of fellow citizens. This, beyond being an overview, the heart visualization symbolizes the overall ‘sentiment’ of the city towards its urban challenges.

Riga’s Sentiments

The installation was running for five days, in total for 25 hours. During this time the database logged about 1600 interactions. These interactions cannot automatically be counted as single votes by individuals as many participants were exploring the installation in a playful manner through swiping their e-talon more often. In a next step with an elaborate data cleaning process this behaviour can be removed from the data set. However, we can already identify a clear tendency that shows that participants overall voted positive, as 75% of the interactions were happy. If we look more closely into the different urban challenges we can reveal more telling insights of how the citizens of Riga think about their city. ATTĪSTĪBA (development) was the category, which attracted with 356 interactions the least attention of participants. Still 76% (270 counts) of the recorded data was positive. As development maybe interpreted in many ways participants could have felt irritated and therefore may have decided not to vote in this category. TRANSPORTS (transport) and DROŠĪBA (safety) were the most controversial topics, which is by the way in line with other cities where the installation was running before. Transport attracted 379 interactions and safety 434 interactions of which both topics were 65% happy and 35% un-happy. As there were more interactions tracked for the category of safety one may argue that this is due to the higher importance of this topic to participants. VIDE (environment) attracted 447 interactions of which 78% were positive and 22% negative. KULTŪRA (culture) has been the topic most participants wanted to express their sentiments about. The system logged 518 interactions of which 441 (85%) were positive and only 77 (15%) negative. Culture is therefore not only the most frequently used urban topic but also the topic participants are the happiest about. One may argue that this result might be due to the fact that participants were influenced by the many cultural events that were going on at this time during the Staro Riga Festival.

Observations

Overall it is to say that the logged interactions by the system were on average 75% positive as well as none of the categories reached a majority of un-happy interactions. This is a result we did not find in any previous deployment and therefore lets us assume that Riga is a city where people seem to be quite content with the addressed urban challenges or tend to see things in a more positive way.

Our observations revealed three different participation patterns:

The serious behaviour

A participant submits exactly one sentiment for each of the explored categories. This pattern would reflect how we expected the interaction mechanism to work – i.e. a person would explore the categories by rotating the knob and would submit one sentiment for a specific preference.

The repetitive behaviour

This was the most frequently observed participation pattern. The participant has submitted the same sentiment (same preference for a certain category) several times within the considered time range. The occurrence of this pattern can be explained with our frequent observation of participants holding their card over the RFID reader (for a certain preference) for several seconds. Thus the system registers several submissions (although our system had restricted votes not to be registered within 5 seconds after each given participation). This behaviour might be due to a usability flaw of our installation – the participating person did not realize the effect of her participation in the visualization, hence tried several times. Another explanation might be the manifestation of a particular sentiment towards one urban challenge: by holding the card over the reader, the user might have wanted to reassure herself that her opinion would be registered by the system.

The playful behaviour

There were many occurrences of this behaviour during the deployment of the installation. The participant has submitted several different preferences for the same category within the considered period of time. This might indicate that s/he did not really want to express an opinion, but rather explored how the installation and the visualization work. While we cannot account for representative polling results, the findings indicate the installation fulfilled its intentions as an urban feedback platform, where people engage meaningfully with locally relevant topics. In the future it would be exciting to deploy several citizen sentiment dashboards permanently across the city as well as working closer with city authorities and local communities. This might open a fruitful dialog in between citizens and stakeholders of Riga.


Overview Work

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SCSD at Ars Electronica Festival
in Linz

We are pleased to show our recent project at this year’s Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. The Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard (SCSD) is an interactive participatory installation that lets citizens engage with, and comment on, urban challenges in their cities.

Through a tangible interface connected to a media facade, passers-by and participants on-site can submit their sentiments, and simultaneously see the effect of their actions projected onto the facade. The tangible urban interaction device allows for an intuitive and accessible, yet identifiable and public way of expressing one’s view. The project aims to create an open, aesthetic dialogue about urban challenges and invites citizen to engage, by playfully allowing them to express their opinion and share and compare their views in the physical built environment.

More information and a documentation will follow soon.

In the meanwhile please read our interview with Ars Electronica:
http://www.aec.at/aeblog/en/2014/08/27/smart-citizen-sentiment-dashboard/


Overview Work

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Paper at PerDis 2014

In this paper we introduce the notion of media architectural interfaces (MAIs), which describe the relation between users engaging with dynamic content on media façades through tangible artifacts on street level.

Firstly, we outline existing research concerned with public displays, urban screens and media facades, secondly we summarize related works that explore mediated urban interactions in connection with MAIs. We report on the technical set up of a field study, in which we deployed a novel tangible user interface (TUI), called the Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard (SCSD). This device gives citizens the opportunity to express their mood about local urban challenges. The input from this TUI is then instantly displayed on a very large (3700 sqm) media façade. The installation ran for three weeks during a media arts festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. During this deployment period, we were able to gather data to help us understand the relationship between passers-by, participants, the TUI and the media façade. As a result we identified emergent behavior in the immediate space around the TUI and the wider urban space. The contribution this paper makes is in highlighting challenges in the design and deployment of large-scale media architectural interfaces.

We are pleased to have been able to make our paper open access:

Behrens, M., Valkanova, N., Brumby, D., Fatah, A. (2014). Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard: A Case Study Into Media Architectural Interfaces. In: Proceedings, PerDis’14: The International Symposium on Pervasive Display, Copenhagen, Denmark. ACM library


Overview Work

 

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‘Screens in the Wild’
documentary

I am pleased to present you our full documentary by Mattia Pagura about our research project ‘Screens in the Wild’ at the Bartlett. Enjoy!


Overview Work

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Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard
Sao Paulo

The project called Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard (SCSD) is an interactive and participatory installation that lets citizens engage with and comment on urgent challenges in São Paulo. SCSD aims to translate instant citizen feedback into a visual language, which is displayed on the media facade of the Galeria de Arte Digital (FIESP). The media facade and its surrounding turn into a stage for social encounter where the urban challenges can be discussed.

Nina Valkanova and I have been invited by Verve Cultural and Galeria de Arte Digital do SESI-SP to produce an interactive media installation for the Viva Cidade Festival in September 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

THE LOCATION

The Galeria de Arte Digital do SESI-SP consists of a large public display which is build into the honey comb facade of the FIESP/SESI Building at Avenida Paulista 1313 in São Paulo. Avenida Paulista is the main Avenue of Sao Paulo and the most important financial center in South America. Millions of people from all parts of the city pass the facade daily on its broad sidewalks. It is supposed to bring together people from various cultural, social and economic backgrounds.

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THE MEDIA FACADE

The screen is divided into three parts which are situated on three different sides of the facade. The biggest and main display faces to the opposite side of the street, whereas the two smaller screens are directed to display to both directions of Avenida Paulista. The three-folded low resolution LED facade is weaved into the existing honey comb facade and is formed by a network of approximately 26.000 LED Clusters (pixels) embedded in 3.700 m² metal structure that covers the pyramidical FIESP building. Each Pixel is formed by a module of four LEDs: 2 x R, 1 x G, 1 x B the luminous intensity is 4.5 cd / module. To interface with the facade a VGA connection to the main computer and a low resolution graphical mask is needed.

THE PROJECT

Design Process

In a number of workshops the artists invited citizens of São Paulo with different social and cultural backgrounds to collectively identify urgent urban challenges (Figure). The aim of the ethnographically inspired design workshops was to translate the perceived mood of the quality of urban living into a culturally understandable visual language, and to integrate it into tangible devices that enable the spontaneous collection of citizen feedback in urban space.

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Interactive Technology

The technology facilitates on the ubiquitous Bilhete Unico travel card, which is based on RFID technology. The project’s goal is to make use of this smart technology beyond travel purposes and allow citizens to express their mood and opinion instantly in the technology mediated urban realm. Although with seven million users on a regular basis, initial research showed that mostly commuter with lower and middle income use public transport in São Paulo and therefore carrying a unique trackable ID tag in their pockets.

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Urban Device and Visualization

The aim of the project is to create an open, aesthetic dialogue about the quality of urban living, by playfully allowing people to convey their opinion about  urgent challenges. Accordingly, the designers integrated RFID technology into a custom-made Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard – a portable urban device, which enables people to choose an urban category (mobility, environment, security, public space, housing) and submit their uniquely identifiable opinion about it by an intuitive swipe with their transport cards. This data is collected into a citizen sentiment database, which the facade visualization uses for real-time visualizations.

Exhibition Setting

The installation is running daily from September 12 until September 30 in the evening from 8pm on. Due to the geographical location of Sao Paulo the sunset is at this time of the year around 6pm many people on their way back home from work either engage with their Bilhete Unicos (RFID transport cards) or simply enjoy the facade installation and take pictures of each others in front of the facade.

More:
Facebook group SCSD_SP
Verve Cultural Marília Pasculli, João Frugiuele (curators), Chantal Goldfinger (production)
FIESP Facade details
Flickr Album
Galeria de Arte Digital do SESI-SP

Press links:
Red Bull Art Blog
SP Urban 
Inker Art Blog


Overview Work

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Screens in the Wild:
Local interactions and interviews

Here is a short documentary by Mattia Pagura about our research project ‘Screens in the Wild’ at the Bartlett. The full documentary will be launched soon!


Overview Work

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Living Light Lab at the
UCL VEIV Exhibition

At last week’s ‘Building Projection Party’ to celebrate over 10 years of the UCL EngD Centre VEIV I was invited to showcase the latest prototype of the ‘Living Light Lab’ project. The interactive low resolution LED display was hooked up with an RFID technology based feedback system to allow visitors of the party to instantly express their opinion through their Oyster cards or access cards.

http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/graduate/news/animating_ucl

VIVE_Match_web

Living light lab is an interactive light installation that attracts, engages and connects performers through visualizing instant feedback data in urban space. The aim is to provide a stage for encounter and discussion through promoting locational awareness. Three low resolution displays shape a minimalistic light structure following the principle of sixteen digit number displays, which allow the projection of numbers and letters but also abstract environmental data and feed it back into the built environment in the form of a large scale physical light installation.

In total 48 RGB 24V LED light strips (non-addressable) (144 RGB channels) are connected to microcontrollers which are addressable through the DMX protocol. A decoder transfers the DMX signals through USB wire to a laptop. The visualizations are programmed with Processing [6]. The basic idea for the visualizations on the installation mines and abstracts existing environmental data feeds as well as attached sensor kits concerning the local area.

In this research I am addressing the following research questions: How can we represent and visualize situated data in real-time and in a meaningful way? What kind of social interactions and dynamic spatial configurations mediated by this interactive installation take place? And eventually, how may large scale installations and related interactions impact urban space? These questions will be addressed through a series of iterative prototype deployments in urban space.

Pilot study

During the UCL VEIV Building Projection Party we set up the first prototype of the LED display at the main campus [7]. To explore interactivity we connected the light installation with a binary feedback device based on RFID technology (figure 3) which we developed in the past for indoor public spaces [8]. Participants were able to leave their feedback in a playful way through swiping their travel (Oyster) or UCL access cards over the well-known thumbs-up or thumbs-down icons on the card reader. When swiping across the thumbs-up icon the light installation turned the VEIV logo into orange, whilst the thumbs-down icon turned the logo into blue (figure 1).

The installation was running between 8pm and 10pm during the UCL VEIV Building Projection Party. During the first hour the daylight reduced the light distribution whereas towards the end colours of the LEDs provided orange and blue ambient light.

Initial findings

Throughout the event we took images, notes and informally talked to people joining the event. Overall participants enjoyed using their Oyster Cards or UCL access cards to change the color of the low resolution display. The fact that they were actually rating the event was less important than the playfulness of changing the colours. The lawn in front of the installation was the preferred seating area and the ‘I like’ device created a stage for social encounters (figure 4). However, after sunset people moved away from the immediate space around the installation as the LEDs became too bright. We even observed participants sitting on the lawn suddenly standing up to change the colour from blue to orange. They obviously felt more comfortable with the orange light. Based on this initial pilot study we will further explore various spatial formations (ie. flat, tilted or 3 dimensional). Further we are planning to connect the LED screens with a series of input devices such as sensor kits capturing environmental data.

Behrens, M. (2013). Living Light Lab: Exploring Instant Feedback in Mediated Urban Space. UbiComp ’13 Adjunct, September 08 – 12 2013, Zurich, Switzerland.

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Overview Work

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Living Light Lab

Connecting People in Mediated Public Spaces 

Living light lab is an interactive light installation that attracts, engages and connects participants with the aim to create an stage for encounter in the urban space of London this coming autumn.

Three low-resolution displays shape a minimalistic light structure following the principle of seven digit number displays. Instead of displaying Arabic numbers this sixteen digit display intends to materialize abstract environmental data and feed it back into the built environment in the form of a physical light installation. The light strips sculpt the surrounding space and provide a series of experiences from different angles for the audience. In autumn, day light is decreasing and people are rushing through the darkness. On their way to work passers-by are less willing to engage with the light installation, whereas in the late afternoon the interactive structure awakes, flashes and tries to get in touch with passers-by.

The interactive installation behaves differently: In ‘attractor mode’ the light strips flash up randomly to attract the attention of passers-by attention as soon as they stop proximity sensors (kinect) will respond according to their movements. Following the ‘honey pot’ effect other participants will stop and the light sculpture will connect them as they will become performers on the public stage.

The basic idea for the visualizations on the installation mines and abstracts environmental data feeds – ideally in real time – concerning the local area. A first prototype will be shown during the 10th anniversary of the UCL VEIV centre at in June.


Overview Work

I am local

UP London Hackathon: I’m local

Great sketch by Elvia Vasconcelos

From local community boards to dynamic local dashboards

Location matters! Hardly any digital social network or media platform is missing out the opportunity to geographically trace their users activities. Amongst others Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare allow users to geo tag their lives. However, existing digital social networks miss out a web of location based micro information which emerges informally amongst local communities in their neighbourhoods.

Whilst citizens do their daily errands they are used to stop at community boards gathering the latest news that are released by other citizens in the close neighbourhood. Self made printouts invite residents to quiz nights in the local pub, to join a charity event, a new toddlers group or desperately searching for a lost cat. Councils use community boards to announce neighbourhood plans and call for participation or essential maintenance of public buildings as well as opening hours of social facilities. Over time the posters are washed away by the rain or replaced by new ones. Our idea is to extend the use and encounter stage of dynamic community boards in urban space and turn them into digital local dashboards allowing people to virtually access events, announcements or latest discussions through their smartphones or on public displays. Members of a local community will find out more easily what is going on in their close environment. Participation will become easier which builds social trust and cohesion and eventually leads to a socially sustainable neighbourhood.

What is the problem?

Living in a particular neighbourhood, one may want to find out what actually is going on in the close area. What are your neighbours concerned with, what are the discussions about urgent issues that needs to be addressed or is there are local toddler group I can join with my kids? So far these micro informations are not systematically covered and visualized by established digital social media platforms. Where does all this local information currently accumulate? How can we actually put distributed local information together and map them in a meaningful way for the benefit of all members of a local community?

How is it working?

We aim to make local information, issues, discussions in the virtual space visible to all other members in a neighbourhood regardless of their digital literacy. We are extracting location relevant information from existing digital social networks and platforms, categorize them and display them on a map. Currently there are two levels of accessing our platform: Either through a public interface such as a public display which does not require the user to sign up, or a mobile application for personal mobile devices that allows users to sign up and customize their interests.

What are the themes we would like to map?

• Local Arts and Culture: i.e. markets, local events, exhibitions, concerts, library collection.

• Local Advice: i.e. homeless, lost items, local GPs, opening hours, toddler groups, council meetings.

• Local Discussion: i.e. urban planning, elections, safety, local bloggers

Who are the users?

Our application basically targets citizens who have a particular interest in the self-organized micro activities that take place in their close environment. All members of a local community get the opportunity to access data and information that is relevant to specific neighbourhood with ease and contribute.

Collaborators: Elvia Vasconcelos, Mairead Curran, Leon Barker, Moritz Behrens


Overview Work

Biennale

Media Architecture
Biennale 2012, Aarhus

Over the course of two days architects, urban planners, interaction designer, researcher, representatives of the industries and local stakeholders came together to discuss and share their knowledge, create new networks and experience various interactive exhibits in the field of media architecture. The focus of the conference was on participative design and ownership mediated through digital technologies in urban space.

Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark. Though there are only 250 000 inhabitants it is a vibrant cultural hub with many exciting and innovative attractions. The region of Aarhus is to become the European Capital of Culture in 2017 with the focus on encouraging active citizenship.

This MAB 12 was hosted at the Godsbanen cultural centre in Aarhus, Denmark and organized by the Media Architecture Institute, Centre for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) and Participatory Information Technology (PIT) at the University of Aarhus. In his opening speech Denmark’s Minister of Culture Uffe Elbæk outlined his idea of how to design the future city and which role media architecture should play and called for a digital version of Jane Jacob’s vision of a lively city. Amongst the speakers were Jason Bruges (London), United Visual Artists (London), Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), (Kopenhagen) and Gehl Architects (Kopenhagen).

Workshop: ‘Prototyping for ownership’

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This one day workshop was organized by Prof. Klaus Birk (Media Design, DHBW & Information Environments, UAL London) and Roman Grasy (Intuity Media Lab) who shared their academic as well as entrepreneurial experience and knowledge in the field of interaction design. The workshop focused on ‘ideation and prototyping techniques for early involvement and activation of stakeholders’. About 15 attendees from various countries, disciplines and academic as well as the industry came together with different ways of thinking.

Centre for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI)

EXPO2010_danish_pavilion(photo by Leif Orkelbog-Andresen)

After the conference finished I was introduced to CAVI’s most exciting works by the project assistant Kasper Aae. During my visit through the lab Kasper demoed various interactive projects that explore video projections, interactive sound and tangible interfaces. One of the well known projects is the Danish pavilion for the World Expo in Shanghai 2012, which was constructed around a media façade designed by BIG architects. To be able to simulate and study different light scenarios, CAVI set up a cave environment for projecting on a small scale model of the pavilion. CAVI benefits from these partnerships with companies such as LEGO or the architectural practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The CAVI centre offers a highly successful and unique environment as it enables researchers to build complex prototypes for their studies with the support of skilled soft and hardware technicians. Over many years they accumulated extensive knowledge and practical experiences which they can constantly rely on. This effective synthesis between research and production is reflected by the enormous public and academic awareness.

ARoS

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One of the most fascinating attractions is the ARoS Art Museum in the centre of Aarhus. Besides its extensive art collection, the renowned Danish artist Olafur Eliasson implemented a magnificent art installation on top of the cubic brick building. Eliasson designed a rainbow ring, which consists of glass panels in the colours of the rainbow. Whilst walking through the glazed corridor one sees the city of Aarhus in various coloured light. On a rainy day the colourless environment turns into a mood-lifting experience. The only recently opened ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’ is an excellent example for emergent urban media architecture in Denmark. Therefore it is no wonder that the Media Architecture Biennale 2012 is hosted in Aarhus.


Overview Work

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‘Screens in the Wild’
research project

Currently I am working in an interdisciplinary research project between the Space Group at University College London and the Mixed Reality Lab at University of Nottingham. We deployed four urban media screens and explore how we can design a platform for community engagement.

For more information, visit: screensinthewild.org

(video by Screens in the Wild)


Overview Work

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3rd International
UBI Summer School 2012

In June the Erasmus Staff Training Mobility program at UCL brought me to a hardly known place at the northern boundaries of Europe. The City of Oulu in Finland (www.oulu.fi) is situated only 160 km south of the polar circle and therefore with its 140 000 inhabitants one of the northernmost cities in the world. Despite the remote location the city is a leading innovative tech hub in Europe.

Only recently The Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org) named Oulu as one of its 2012 Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year at the Pacific Telecommunications Council’s annual conference (PTC’12) in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The focus of this award lies in novel developments in society and economy mediated through information and communication technologies (ICTs). Among others, mostly responsible for this success is the UBI Oulu project (www.ubioulu.fi/en), initiated by the UBI research program at the University of Oulu in collaboration with the City of Oulu. The aim of this EU funded project is to deploy and explore the impact of a novel pervasive computing infrastructure on the built environment and its inhabitants. Therefore different wireless networks and interactive public displays where established in recent years which reveal large amounts of data sets to work with. This appealing setting turns Oulu in a highly interesting test bed for researchers in mobile and ubiquitous computing as well as in urban planning and architecture from all over the world.

In the afternoon the 3rd International UBI Summer School 2012 started off. Therefore we met in our designated workshop groups. I signed up for ‘Urban Sensoria: Human-Centered Computing in Practice’ held by Alejandro Jaimes from Yahoo Research in Barcelona. The aim of this workshop was to sense the city and its cultural characteristics through various human centered methods combined with ubiquitous computing methods. The workshop participants were mostly PHD students and researchers from all over Europe with various cultural and research backgrounds. During the week we developed ideas and concepts in our groups, which were constantly discussed with all workshop participants and the workshop instructor. Further the aim was to get immediate feedback from people of the street. Therefore we did observations, interviews throughout the whole week. The last day of the summer school was Saturday. We finished the day with a presenting all our work established throughout the last week.


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‘City Methodology’ Exhibition

(graphic by Stefanos Gkougkoustamos, Yimeng Tang, Martin Traunmueller)

The time-based city: Methodological innovations in the digital age

The city is increasingly generating a huge amount of data on various platforms including physical, mobile, digital and social ones and through various data sources such as GPS, Google Maps, Twitter, and Facebook. We show methodological and detailed explorations as part of the Module ‘City as Interface’ on the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation.

The central question underpinning the research explores:

How the use of digital media technologies might generate an additional platform for interactions in the city, locally and remotely and how the use of media technologies might make our cities more social, rather than just more hi-tech.

Three exhibits exploring these questions will be shown:

‘Urban Flows: Pedestrian Movement and Simulated Behaviour Formations in Urban Public Space’ (Christos Chondros, Eleni Georgiadou, Lida Theodorou)

‘Space/aSpace: Exploring mediated cityscape through geo-located Twitter-data’ (Stefanos Gkougkoustamos, Yimeng Tang, Martin Traunmueller)

‘Swipe I Like: Can we Enhance Visitor Engagement with Museums through Embedding a Location-Based ‘I like’ Button which connects Online and Real World Communities?’ (Moritz Behrens)

As part of the exhibition I gave a talk and demo about the project ‘Swipe I Like’, focusing on how we can enhance visitor engagement with museums through embedding a location-based ‘I like’ button which connects online and real world communities’. Specifically, how it will extend the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to locate NFC card readers in cultural institutions, allowing visitors to simply “swipe” a card with an NFC chip to register whether they “like” an event, idea or place.


Overview Work

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‘Body as Interface’ workshop

(Students at the Move exhibition at the Hayward Gallery)

In November 2011 I was tutoring a one week workshop at the MSc AAC at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies in London. Together with students we were exploring the relationship between space perception and the body. The idea of this multidisciplinary workshop was to merge architectural space, body movement, performance, dance and interactive design.

Our aim was to achieve a better understanding of the physiological and psychological processes that are involved in the construction of perception by investigating how it relates to the body.

The workshop was part of the MSc AAC ‘Body as Interface’ module led by Ava Fatah gen. Schieck and co-organized by Katja, Christina and Armando.

The following presentation is part of my initial talk at the first day of the workshop:


Overview Work

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EN{code}D Show 2011

This great video, edited by my fellow student Andrea Vannini, shows the enormous variety of projects that evolved during our 12 month attendance in the MSc course in Adaptive Architecture and Computation at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies at University College London.

It’s been an incredibly exciting time! Thank you all!


Overview Work

SwipeIlike_Presentation

Swipe I like – embedding the
‘Like’ button in the real world

We developed and deployed a networked tangible device, the ‘I Like’ button, in mediated urban spaces to enable citizens to voice their opinion about urgent challenges. The aim is to explore emergent social behavior of people’s local presence in the real world mediated through social networks and how this behavior relates to their presence in the digital world. The technology facilitates on ubiquitous RFID travel cards such as the Oyster Card in London and explores its use beyond ticketing.

Behrens, M. M. (2011). Swipe ‘I like’: location based digital narrative through embedding the ‘Like’ button in the real world. Presented at: 5th International Conference on Communities & Technologies – Digital Cities 7.

Presentation slideshow:


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Swipe I like – Pilot study

We conducted a pilot study earlier this year by implementing a first prototype into the real world. Positioning the device near the exit of lecture halls at UCL enabled people to voice their opinion about the lectures.

The objective was to observe how people react to the appearance and interact with the novel tangible interface in terms of the user experience and the principles for interaction design (affordance, visibility, accessibility, feedback). Lectures were suitable for the first study as listener have to leave the venue through one door. Thus we could approach a lot of people in a short period of time in a dense environment. We covered four lectures over time within two weeks.

(Behrens, M. 2011. Swipe ‘I like’: location based digital narrative through embedding the ‘Like’ button in the real world. Brisbane, DC7 conference 2011)

swipe I LIKE from momibe on Vimeo.


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Movement, Rest, Encounter




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Body as Interface


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Elder Latimer is in Love

Elder Latimer, a young Mormon from the United States comes to London. Being there his world of absolutes starts to crumble. He falls in love with Dina, a young Muslim who’s even more convinced of her faith than he is of his, and so questions of love, truth and faith take on a whole new meaning.

13 white multifunctional boxes used to various imaginative effects constitute the main props of the stage. According to the various scenes, the boxes are arranged differently by the actors while creating new settings. Thus, the actors interact with the props and vice versa. The stage is surrounded by scaffolds covered by transparent membrane. Using LED lighting technique various colours are reflected on the white boxes, shining through the transparent membrane. Given the fact that scenes are changing quickly and the play switches between different plots, the lighting concepts helps the audience to identify and match the different scenes belonging to the same plot.

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