Powerful new forces are shaping the way we live, work and travel in the city. GPS, electric vehicles, pervasive internet access, sensor data, short range wireless communication, reactive surfaces, augmented reality, open data, smart phones and a blizzard of new apps are combining to redefine the way we see and experience London. Sense and the City unravels the digital future, illustrates the power of emerging applications and poses questions about mobility, society and work in the Capital over the next decade.
The exhibition opens with a striking futurist vision by artist Syd Meads (Bladerunner, Aliens, Tron) and a memorable selection of images showing past-future visions including those by architects Le Corbusier and Archigram as well as the failed and the frivolous such as a spiral escalator, winged buses and taxi airships. The centre of the space features two real vehicles – the controversial Sinclair C5 and the Ryno – a self-balancing, one wheel, electric scooter.
The displays look at the development of technology and its integration into the – social, economic and political fabric of the city. The gradual convergence of devices which has led to smart phones, tablets and laptops and wireless networked devices is illustrated on a wall of retro technology including 1980s brick-sized mobile phones, Commodore computers and the earliest wireless devices.
A centre piece of the exhibition is an interactive table with eight screens that allows visitors to view a wealth of film, animations, data visualisations and images on subjects ranging from the cashless society and driverless cars to reactive buildings and augmented reality. Visitors will be invited to join in and give their views about whether the plethora of new digital information and opportunity for access is exciting, a huge worry or a total waste of time.
Accompanying the interactive table is the Visions of Tomorrow wall where some of tomorrow’s top designers – students currently studying at the Royal College of Art, present their practical ideas showing today’s technology on tomorrow’s street and how we may move and communicate in 2020. Some of the amazing ideas include:
London E-motion: an electrically powered scooter that expresses the driver’s feelings and mood. Using large, visible communication surfaces, the E-Motion could improve communication between all road users.
Augmented wayfinding: a social networking approach to signage which proposes to integrate touchscreens, augmented reality displays, dynamically updated content and social networks into the signage found on the streets of London.
Visitors can also immerse themselves in ‘beautiful data’. Screens will project ground-breaking data visualisations from such eminent developers as Carlo Ratti of MIT, Aaron Koblin of Google Creative alongside up-to-the-minute work from students at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.
The finale of Sense and the City is the Bus Stop of the Future provided by Clear Channel. As well as offering protection against the weather, it provides travel data in real time, suggests alternative routes, advertises products and services and links people to others in the neighbourhood.
Sense and the City has been organised in partnership with Royal College of Art (RCA), and is supported by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clear Channel and Native Design.