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Interactive motion-sensing urban screen installation. Recycle, and save Sydney from destruction.

The University of Sydney in cooperation with Energy of Australia proposed as a brief for one of the studio assignments of their Master in Interaction Design program the design of an interactive installation for the urban screen located in Sydney's Grid Gallery. We formed groups of three students and each group implemented a proposal.
The Grid Gallery's screen is 15m long per 1m high and is located in one of the most active business areas of Sydney' CBD. After spending days observing the habits of the passers-by during weekdays and weekends, it was decided that the installation would have a really short timeframe to catch the viewer's attention, in the same way the interaction should be really short since most of the target audience were workers from the near office buildings commuting from the near Wynyard station or in their lunch break.
The theme was open and observing that most of the pedestrians were carrying a potential piece of garbage in their hands (coffee cups, lunch boxes, paper bags, pet bottles) we saw an opportunity to use the space for a call to motivate recycling in the city.

The low-resolution of the screen invited to 8-bit the work, also the age range of the target audience pointed to a big percentage of old-school video games nostalgics.
Taking the idea from the infamous Space Invaders we envisioned a game in which each one of the types of aliens represented one type of recyclables, the amount of invaders of each kind would be based in real data, the aliens would slowly destroy the city's landscape and harass the nearest pedestrians, the only one way to fight back would be depositing a piece of recyclable in the gigantic invader-shaped trash bin. Using the garbage as a projectile one of the invaders would be destroyed in an orgy of explosions and rumble.
The building corners would display two columns of light, one as a score and another one as the time left for the installation to finish, as a countdown to the city's destruction.

My background in computer science made me the perfect candidate to take care of the whole coding, animation and electronics. The animation and motion detection was programmed using Processing and OpenKinect, the main computer communicated remotely with the bin and the system in charge of the building's illumination.

The work was on display in Urban Realities & Augmented Play exhibition at University of Sydney. During the exhibition time the goal for garbage collected was reached already in half the time.

The work was also featured in Attract::Relate::Sustain exhibition at The Verge, Sydney.

The score result for the studio was of high distinction.


David Montero

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  • Interaction Designer, Creative Technologist

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