The streets like a big playground: A cluster of different playful signals

Quebec-3In a world where cities grow of population, people meet the most in the urban place. Because of the population growth, places on the street generally are becoming more anonymous, impersonal and more functional.

Mankind is questioning about the everyday life, analyzing the circumstances and want to find a playful solution to improve the awareness of life. People want to reinvent the urban place by bringing back fun and personality. Together we invent the urban place more towards a play society.

Signals as ‘ActiWait (StreetPong)’, ‘Dreamy Playground’, ‘Waterfall Swing’ and ‘Rainworks’, connect well with this. These trends are closing well with the trends Collaboration, Experience Economy and Gamification. 

What is it?


Firstly, I want to talk about the ActiWait (StreetPong). This is a concept by Sandro Engel and Amelie Künzler of URBAN INVENTION.


                              (Sandro Engel & Amelie Künzler)

This is a pedestrian light (touch screen) that lets you play with a wireless connection against someone on the other side of the road. A video showing this idea traveled around the world surprising millions of people, because it offers pedestrians the possibility to convert boring waiting times into positive experiences. Perhaps it also creates more safety.

The ActiWait creates urban interaction and design and art are interwoven in public spaces. After two years of development, the prototype was installed and tested at a traffic light for the very first time. It was a great success for URBAN INVENTION and now they’re working on a product that is internationally marketable. Besides they hope to change the image of cities all over the world.

Quebec-2The second signal is the Dreamy Playground designed by studio Les Astronautes. The designers turned a dark, narrow alley into a dreamy playground in Quebec City. The only thing the designers used are pink and orange colored swimming pool noodles on both walls of the alleyway. The place gets a whole new identity and experience.

According to the designers, the combination of anonymity and narrowness of this specific place inspired them to come up with this idea.


The intervention was part of Quebec’s public art festival Les Passages Insolites, which aims to reshape our thinking of neighborhoods by questioning our relation with public space.

In challenging visuals that also create an interaction with users, the known surrounding becomes new and adventurous.

Eröffnung Höhenrausch 2014 - Bewegte Räume

Thirdly, the Waterfall Swing is an amazing signal. It’s an interactive art piece and a collaborative project between Mike O’Toole, Andrew Ratcliff, Ian Charnas and Andrew Witte. The Waterfall Swing is built by Dash 7 Design. The swing creates a water plane falling in the path of its riders. The swing is the first in a series that play with interaction in rides and installations.

paul_sobota_swing_seat_hi-res  paul_sobota_j_drew_ian_2_hi-res

Riders pass through the openings of the swing’s waterfall. The swing is created by precise monitoring the path of the riders via axel-housed encoders, creating the thrill of narrow escaping obstacles.

For now, the Waterfall Swing has traveled the world with installations across the United States and in The Netherlands.

Finally, I would like to talk about the Rainworks that are made in Seattle by Peregrine Church (right), who is often helped by co-conspirators Xack Fischer (middle) and Forest Tresidder (left).


Rainworks  proud-to-be-rainy-2-cropped

Church makes rain-activated positive messages, games and art on the streets, by spraying a water-repellant coating onto sidewalks through a stencil. The art only appears when it gets wet (the regular concrete turns darker while the concrete he sprayed the coating on stays dry), and it’s hidden when dry. This kind of street art is meant to brighten your day, even when it’s gray and rainy.

Why is it cool?

Some of the signals are a good example of the redesign of places. Companies and organizations are increasingly creating special activities at special places, where you do not initially expect to encounter this. Indeed, it’s a clever use of the land/space and it creates spontaneous interactions. This is why it inspires me, but I think probably also other citizens, organizations and companies. Besides I especially like the idea of Rainworks, because this would work well in the Netherlands with all the rain we have over here.

You can see the needs for Collaboration, Gamification and the Experience Economy, because of the growing anonymity, impersonality and modern technology. Individualization and the advent of the Internet have accelerated this. In the future these needs will only increase, because lots of people are looking for new places for their activities, fun and personality in the urban place.

By creating concepts and ideas like this, a city has a lot to offer to citizens. Citizens will get happier and the city is becoming more livable and durable.

People have fun and laugh more, but they also move more with some of these signals. This is good for the emotional-, physical- and social wellbeing.

Be smart and use or create something fun on the streets and you will feel happy!








Drink Up!


Everybody needs it… water! Our body consists of about 50 to 75 percent of water. Water is an amazing thing. Yet it’s the unsung hero of beverages. But the big question is, do we drink enough to keep our body hydrated?

Sometimes it’s really difficult to stay hydrated. Every body knows that you have to drink a minimum of 2 liters water a day. Hydration of your body is necessarily for your health and for energy for your daily routines. Water helps to power the moments in your life. But in most cases we actually don’t think about what we drink daily. One of the most important reasons is because we are so busy with everything.

Now ‘The Drink Up Campaign’ in America has a magical solution to drink more water more often and stay hydrated. They hired an expert, ‘The Talking Water Fountain’.

What is it?

The Talking Water Fountain for sure makes a sensational experience for those who use this magical fountain. When the unsuspecting drinkers put their lips to the water, something marvelous happens. The Talking Water Fountain looks like a normal water fountain, but it’s designed with a new technology. When your lips touch the water it completes a circuit and triggers a play-recorded audio. Every time you move your lips away from the water, the audio stops immediately.


The Drink Up Fountain is powered by Partnership for a Healthier America, the private sector, PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama, Y&R New York and sister digital marketing/ad agency VML New York to boost healthy hydration.

The fountain certainly helps to attract people to drink enough water and increase a better health and more energy. With the monologue-giving public drinking fountains the Drink Up Campaign also hopes to inspire and surprise a lot of people. The Drink Up Campaign wants to spread the water fast and they have a strong, recognizable and inspirational quote to keep spreading this: ‘Drink up! You are what you drink – and when you drink water, you drink up.’.

A lot of supporters and famous people are promoting the Drink Up Campaign to spread the water, like John Legend for example.

Why is it cool?

If we look for what’s so cool about the Drink Up Water fountain, we look at the following things such as: What makes it new? What makes it innovative? Does it have future growth potential? And how does it improve the quality of life?

The Drinking Water Fountain has it all, to be precise:

Till now people are very positive and surprised about the fountains. The Drink Up Fountain inspires people with the endearing monologues, but also makes them laugh.

We can say, that the rising technical term ‘Gamification’ is becoming more and more important in our lives.

For years some people thought drinking water is boring. Now, with this new high-tech fountain, thanks to Drink up, water is getting its chance in the spotlight.

The Drink Up Fountain may look like a regular fountain, it sure doesn’t sound like one. It employs voice technology to literally spread the word of good health, encouraging people to stay hydrated. This kind of latest health technology is creating a moment of magic and people really find it magical. This is what makes it so cool, because you are not expecting anything magical to happen while you are drinking from this fountain.

Another reason why it’s cool, is because one of the easiest and most important ways to be healthy is in front of you… water! And the Water Fountain keeps you hydrated in a fun way.

People also feel more connected through the use of the monologue-giving public drinking fountains from Drink Up. Many people are curious when they see other people laughing at an talking water fountain and sharing there experiences with the fountain on social media or with there friends or family. And you know what they say… Sharing = Caring. So if people are sharing their experiences with others, they are showing us that they care about their health, but also about sharing the moment with others. And in fact, sharing with a virtual buddy, the Talking Water Fountain.

In a sort of unbalanced world where we are always busy, the Talking Water Fountain gives a moment of pleasure and rest. It makes it easier to make a healthy choice, but also more accessible and more affordable for all kind of people. So when people drink enough water, they experience an overall higher level of health and you can focus better on other things.

This is why it has future growth potential and helps improving the quality of life, because the more busy we are, the more we want to escape from a busy world and want things to laugh and rest such as the Drink Up Water Fountain. The water drinking fountain encourages to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

But also staying hydrated offers a laundry list of other health benefits as well, including helping weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, facilitating muscle recovery after exercise, and nourishing cells in the body that needs repair and growth.