This summer, Stamps faculty Nick Tobier, Roland Graf, and Michael Rodemer collaborated on a “smart” version of urban knitting that was recently shortlisted for the Smart Oxford Playable City Commission and featured on BBC Radio.
LitKNIT Gateways is a “smart” version of urban knitting using LED stripes to create programmable landmarks and play a walkable light show across Oxford. Building on existing street furniture such as light posts, it weaves colorful light patterns into neighborhood gateways, knitting disparate demographics into an interactive illuminated metropolis.
People can interact with this network of illuminated gateways both physically (e.g. through touch, sound, or motions sensors embedded in street furniture) as well as via a web interface (e.g. smart phone). For example, on a micro level, pedestrians can touch a responsive light pole wrapped with LED stripes with both hands to see their heartbeat displayed as a pulsating color sequence. Or, they can swipe their hands, move across or jump next to the pole to set a light pattern in motion that spins around or moves up and down the pole. On a macro level, the gateways can be linked to a web interface and serve as a public display and sensor of basic city data. For example, a street light pole can become an equalizer bar showing the decibel level of local environmental noise from traffic (e.g. a car passing by) or air quality.
Taken as a whole, these interactive gateways aim at “weaving” together the larger city fabric (physically and digitally) in collaboration with local community organizations and residents. Collectively they can form a pathway to play a role in annual runs, nighttime walks, Critical Mass bicycle rides, and emergent urban games.