As computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets and public spaces of the city, information processing becomes embedded in and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday urban space. Pervasive/ubiquitous computing evangelists herald a coming age of urban information systems capable of sensing and responding to the events and activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember, correlate and anticipate, this “sentient” city is envisioned as being capable of reflexively monitoring our behavior within it and becoming an active agent in the organization of our daily lives.
Few may quibble about “smart” traffic light control systems that more efficiently manage the ebbs and flows of trucks, cars and busses on our city streets. Some may be irritated when discount coupons for their favorite espresso drink are beamed to their mobile phone as they pass by Starbucks. Many are likely to protest when they are denied passage through a subway turnstile because the system “senses” that their purchasing habits, mobility patterns and current galvanic skin response (GSR) reading happens to match the profile of a terrorist.
The project aims to raise awareness of the implications for privacy, autonomy, trust and serendipity in this highly observant, ever-more efficient and over-coded city.
Sentient City Survival Kit by Mark Shepard (2010) from V2_ on Vimeo.
GPS Serendipitor (Concept Sketch)
An alternative GPS navigation software application for mobile phones that determines a route to a destination that the user has not previously taken, designed to facilitate finding something by looking for something else.
First image is a screenshot of a navigation route based on minimum travel distance. The second screenshot shows an alternate route based on streets not yet walked (beginner). Finally the third screenshot shows an advanced alternate route based on streets not yet walked.
The GPS Serendipitor was developed at V2_lab during the Summer Sessions 2010.
Sentient City Survival Kit received an honorary mention at Ars Electronica 2011.
Mark Shepard on Sentient City Survival Kit (2010) from V2_ on Vimeo.