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Playing and connecting with our cities

June 14, 2005

Technology has long been blamed for isolating us from the outside world, as we move around in our own personal bubbles. This maybe the case for many of us, but a few enterprising innovators are aiming to use technology to help us interact and engage with our city environments in interesting ways.

They show how technology can actually draw us closer to our surroundings, or at least force us to think of them in a different ways.

Influx thought it would share some interesting examples of new ways in which technology is allowing us to connect with our cities to both learn and play.

Education

MIT and The University of Architecture Venice

This is a project that involves using cellphones and PDAs to help people interact in a deeper way with the city of Venice. Using Bluetooth in specific locations, users trigger specific responses to the cellphones and PDAs. It allows for a deeper, richer and more educational experience.

Podcasts for Museums

Artmobs produce podcasts for use in the new MOMA. Artmobs select pieces of art and interview various experts about them to help bring interesting perspectives to viewers.

Urban Games

There are dozens of global examples where people are using technology to change the way we think about playing outside. This is not about playing video games on large outdoor screens, but a whole new class of play.

Blast Theory is one of the leading exponents of urban street games. They are more of an art collective than a game development company. Some of its projects have been really interesting, like “Uncle Roy All Around You” In this game, online and offline players work together to find the elusive Uncle Roy.

Digital Street Games was developed by a team from Intel. The objective is to get people to perform and film their own stunts in different parts of the city. The stunts are sent in to the online community that rates them.

Lots of other examples here.

These are early days for these new interactive applications, but it is easy to see the potential. Most of the technology required is already here, all it needs now is imagination, organization and funding.

It’s a perfect opportunity for brands to get involved; either the handset manufacturers, the athletic shoe brands who could get involved with the new forms of gaming, game developers thinking of ways to combine the console and the real world and some of the current sponsors of the arts, who could find alternative ways to engage their audiences.

The advantage for brands lies in the experiences, experiences that are deeper and more engaging. Being an enabler here is something that’s likely to be well received by consumers.

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