“Hello Lamp Post!” is this year’s winner of the Playable City Award that will turn Bristol, UK, into a more interactive city. The art project is created by London-based design studio PAN, and invites passers-by to have a secret conversation with the city’s inanimate objects.
Each public object in the city is assigned with a unique code that allow public servants to identify them. For example, post boxes in Bristol have a six-figure code, benches have seven, and storm drains have 14. When the project is launched, users can text the world “Hello + the name of the object + its code” to a special phone number and the object will instantly “come to life” and send a text back with a questions.
Some questions include, “Where am I?”, “What do I look like?” and “What’s the most exciting thing to do around here?” The passer-by is able to reply and his/her response is stored on an online database to be used in another question when someone else texts the same object. For example, the innate object can later ask, “Someone once told me that the best place to get a sandwich here was on X street. Do you agree?”
The panel of judges included Google’s Tom Uglow, who explained why Hello Lamp Post! was a winner for him:
Hello Lamp Post! stood out with a potential for both art and play using existing urban furniture. It points to a future made up of the physical objects already around us, the ‘internet of things,’ and the underlying complexity is made simple and easy for people by just using SMS for this project. Poetry and technology combine to create subtle and playful reflections of the world we live in. It filled me with a childish delight.
The project is planned to be launched in Bristol this summer. Clare Reddington, Judging Panel Chair, says, “We will certainly have some challenges to make sure the project reaches as many people as possible, but am sure people will respond with curiosity and warmth and I am very much looking forward to waking up some street furniture this summer.”