February 27th, 2013
Every day I go to work, I walk through this underground channel connected to the subway. When I first started work in Shanghai, different colours were projected onto the side panels, creating a neat saturation effect (it’s orange in the photo). About 6 months ago, the colours were replaced with video ads, so now, when you walk through the tunnel, you’re bombarded with slick marketing messages. The problem with these ads, besides being intrusive and annoying, is that most of them aren’t made for the 25-metre wide-screen format: they just project eight TV ads that play simultaneously. Stupid, right? So, I was thinking, armed with a dozen Kinnects, what kinds of interactive/reactive multimedia experiences could be created to make this underground passage more interesting? I only have a few ideas at the moment, but I suspect that I’ll get more over the coming weeks. So, I’m gonna start a list, feel free to contribute in the comments and I’ll add your ideas to the list. A few more details:
- The two screens are facing each other on opposite walls.
- There’s a series of handrails in the centre.
- The tunnel has a slight ascent.
- Sound is played through speakers attached to the ceiling.
- There are eight projectors in total, four for each side. The projected images overlap slightly.
- Thousands of people pass through here each day. Most people are transferring between subway lines.
1) The screens display video of people walking through the passage, acting as a mirror. Zombie textures are then mapped to the passersby. This could be an advertisement for The Walking Dead, being a literal representation of the name.
2) The Kinnects could track walking data and present it on the screen. So, steps taken so far for the day, week, month or year could be displayed. By comparing sets of data—for example, how many steps were taken yesterday to how many have been taken today—a relative high score element is added, encouraging commuters to take more steps.
Any kind of quantification of activity which is then presented back to the people who engage in the activity encourages certain types of behaviour, so there’s certainly ethical questions that need to be considered*. Personally, I think it’d be better if steps were translated into calories burnt, or something like this. This would encourage commuters to think more about their health, as opposed to taking more steps, which is a bit silly.
*For a better example of ethics and gamification, watch this video and ask yourself whether the Delite-o-matic is “right” or “wrong”.