Ambient City Lights

I’m interested in what kind of information could be unobtrusively provided in an urban environment, without being distracting for drivers/residents, whether as installed at bus stops, on lamp posts or elsewhere in the urban environment.

One idea I would love to see is for a column to light up in a muted fashion whenever a bus arrived, perhaps having different colors for different bus lines. This is especially useful if buses need to be flagged down and do not stop at every stop. I find myself having to look up from my reading/phone, or any kind of work, while waiting for buses, preventing me from focusing on anything in case I end up missing my bus.

Effectively that waiting time becomes dead time (usually twenty minutes or so for me), where I’m unable to focus and constantly distracted by needing to look up to see if my bus is arriving. Even a simple installation that lights up with one light of the same color whenever any bus arrives would allow me to get much more done. Attaching a generic sensor/signal to each bus stop and bus would enable this. Because the column is large enough, I would be able to notice it even without looking directly at it – I can notice it peripherally even as I’m reading my book/talking.

Similarly, I’m often unsure whether I need to run for my bus, esp. since the various apps I use are often inaccurate. The same technology could use a different light (color, half lit up, etc) to indicate buses arriving in 5 minutes (etc). This would signal whether I need to run; for people running errands or deciding whether to go home/get food/run errands, it can unobtrusively provide a signal of what would be most time-efficient for them to do. I might prefer to go home right away then buy take-out (etc) if my bus is arriving soon.

The same technology could be used for the arrival of trains, it is similarly fascinating to think of other information that can be unobtrusively communicated in an urban context that would be useful to commuters, citizens, residents, pedestrians, individuals etc…





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