You may have seen the TED talk by the London based data journalist and information designer, David McCandless, where he states that "information is beautiful". Here at Re:Imagine Group we agree with this statement, but we think it needs to be taken one step further. We believe that "interaction with information should be beautiful", particularly when you are accessing information on-the-go. That is why we are launching a new project that uses augmented reality to make interacting with real-time bus information at the bus stop, easy and even delightful.
Many of us have experienced it: You're waiting for the bus, you own a smart phone and you want to know when the next bus is coming. If your city has a lot of money, they might have installed LED signs (costly, and quite frankly, ugly). If not, you are left with a number of apps and websites that will tell you when the bus is arriving.
The problem is, interacting with these sites and apps is not beautiful - you have to know the number of the bus you want, which stop you are at, where you need to go and you need to input all of this information on a tiny screen.
A few weeks ago, I ran a 'Delighting with Data' workshop at the Augmented Reality conference, VOX: the 4D summit - presented by a local Augmented Reality company named Daqri. My team and I decided that AR, far from being a gimmick, could be used to make accessing bus information seamless, and even sexy. We also realized that in doing so, we were dealing with a unique branding opportunity for the city.
The slides above document the process. The 'lite' version starts with placing a branded and individualized sticker at each bus-stop*. You simply open the app, hold it up to the sticker and you can then scroll through information (on your phone's screen) about which buses are coming next. If you click on one of the information panels, additional route information appears. It's that simple. The sticker is the unique branding opportunity for the city or other sponsors and it costs next to nothing.
The extended version of the service allows users to hold their phone to a service map. This time, you see an overlay of where you are and which buses are coming towards you. Many apps provide information about when the next bus is coming but few apps provide the ability to do on-the-go route planning. Our service solves this, beautifully.
To build a prototype of this service, we need access to real-time bus data (which exists in many cities, but we would love to pilot in LA), some money (we're crowdfunding), and champions in local government.
Lastly, for those without smartphones we are considering having a number that regular phones can text. What do you think? necessary?
* It should be noted that while we have used LA's Metro logo on the sticker in the slides above, this is simply a mock-up and we are not affiliated with Metro (yet).
Post by Christine Outram
We believe that "interaction with information should be beautiful", particularly when you are accessing information on-the-go.
How do you take a part of town that's struggling and jump-start economic activity, foot traffic and utilize boarded-up space? How do you take a part of town that seems un-loved and show how vibrant and exciting it might be?
An innovative approach to this challenge is SQFT (Pronounced "Square Foot"), one of the winning projects to emerge from Creative Currency, a civic incubation program spearheaded by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, The HUB, The San Francisco Mayor's innovation office and American Express. SQFT developed a platform to rent temporary space that otherwise would go unused. It makes a market between landlords and entrepreneurs / community members who want to create "pop-up" businesses. Then, using social media techniques it brings these merchants together and promotes their businesses, helping to drive traffic to these newly enlivened neighborhood projects. Local labor is hired and the process is repeated, accelerating development of a neighborhood and allowing merchants and landlords to prototype how a more vibrant neighborhood would work.
The project was first tested in San Francisco on August 1st, 2012 and featured five "pop-up" activities including a sidewalk library, a clothing store, free bike repair, a chess club, games night and yoga class. The team that created SQFT first came together at the Creative Currency Hackathon where the idea was hatched and went on to win $3750 in incubation funding. A few months later the project was prototyped in San Francisco's Mid-Market neighborhood. The results demonstrated that foot traffic increased several fold, and that projects were an economic success for participants, landlords and businesses. It is now being scaled up as a resource for multiple cities to draw on.
Key to the project's success was the experience of its team members. Events like Creative Currency draw together coders, designers, urbanists, real-estate developers, city officials, and experts on urban problems. Such a rich experience base seldom has a chance to brainstorm new projects, much less compete to test them out on the canvas that is a city. The SQFT team included Emily Eienhart, an urban planning professional and anthropologist from IDEO, Patrick Keenan a software developer with experience in both startups and social innovation activities, and User Experience designer. The team was paired with community mentors including real-estate developer Brian De Lowe from Viceroy Hotels which has a property in the neighbor and participated as a pop-up space host and Bay Area Hub Board President Penelope Douglas.
So often we look at a blighted neighborhood and think, "That's blight. It'll never change." By prototyping what vibrant neighborhood activity looks like, SQFT demonstrates what's possible and helps to overcome the predisposition and imagination gap we often bring to challenged neighborhoods .
Post by Peter Hirshberg
> Article in Forbes
> Article by Shareable