German company Urban Invention has created a product that gives pedestrians the ability to interact with one another on a personal level in an impersonal environment. ActiWait (StreetPong) lets two pedestrians who are waiting to cross a street from opposing sides play the classic arcade game Pong against each other.
Developers Amelie Künzler and Sandro Engel from Urban Invention were first given the idea of a smart traffic light button from a seminar called “Interactive Media II” by Professor Stefan Wölwer at the HAWK Hildesheim. They visualized their dream in 2012 through a small video clip that animated a potential StreetPong game in a realistic way. After this was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, with people demonstrating desire to have it installed in their cities, Urban Invention Developed the ActiWait.
The ActiWait was developed to address rising global urbanization. Currently, 3.5 billion people, half of the human population, reside in cities, and this amount is due to grow by a few billion more by 2050. In cities, people have many amenities that would not be accessible to them in suburban and rural living, and the economic centers make for more job opportunities.
Despite the surrounding concentration of people that one experiences in a major city, many urbanites are plagued with feelings of loneliness and isolation. ActiWait confronts this by helping relieve stress during commuting and traveling hours in a manner that can actually help to build interactions within a community. Since pong is a simple, but engaging and competitive game that is known by many people, it was chosen as an ideal program to combat this issue.
Urban Invention even has evidence of this through their testing. Throughout the first testing phase, they discovered that the majority of people tested wanted ActiWait at their traffic lights, and 75% of the people who used it would get in contact with their opponents afterward. It even drastically lowered the number of jaywalkers per day: from 60 without ActiWait to just 11 with it installed.
A major topic in standardization is smart and sustainable cities, in which different activities and infrastructure help to shape a city. (Learn more: Smart and Sustainable Cities). An interactive device that allows pedestrians to engage with one another while monitoring the status of their crossing light has benefits for the citizens and could easily be included in this group.
StreetPong technology could also be a welcome addition to smart gridplans.
ActiWait has completed its testing phase, and StreetPong will likely pop up in large cities throughout the world.