Hello Lamp Post! is a smart city installation that aims to create interactions between you and inanimate street objects. Lamp posts are not the only street furnishings to get the ‘smart’ treatment, other street things such as mailboxes and storm drains will all be mobile friendly and accessible with a simple text from your phone.
Lamp posts, bus stops and post boxes are the goosebumps of the city and so ubiquitous that they have become invisible. The ‘smart city’ approach is to augment them with technologies like digital displays, but Hello Lamp Post! will make them playable, using existing city infrastructure to make an open, hospitable and playful experience which encourages you to notice and interact with what is around you.
The project is the first winner in Bristol’s Playable City contest, and it’s part of an evolving synthesis between ubiquitous smart phones and inert infrastructure that forms the fabric of our everyday existence. The strength of the design lays in the natural indexing of each object in the city – every post box has a six figure code, every storm drain has seven. Texting “hello” plus the object’s name and identifying index number wakes up each object. Ideally, the objects will have unique personalities, a keen sense of humor, and an affinity for urban planning.
The entertainment factor comes in the hunt for those unique numbers and conversationalists among the urban bunch, but also in the curious posture that users might take when texting a lamp post. Such displays of zany spectacle might be educational for one individual, but I suppose it can also appear strange, psychotic, or comical.