Back in 2012 we wrote about an urban game played while waiting at the traffic light. We are happy to hear and spread the word that the project got the green light and that the game is now installed at one of the intersections in Hildesheim, Germany.
Sandro Engel and Holger Michel, two interaction design students at HAWK University have launched the game in late November and so far it has been a success. They are planing to do more with it in the future so they started a new campaign for the smart traffic light button.
The game, which is installed on traffic lights for pedestrians. It enables pedestrians who have to wait to cross the junction to play a Pong game with someone else who’s waiting on the opposite side of the road. STREETPONG works with two touch screens on both sides of the road that are installed right at the place were you usually find the traffic light button. As soon as the traffic light turns red, you can play. When the traffic light is green the little screen shows how much time there’s left to cross the street.
STREETPONG is a great intervention and a clever idea, that, of course, reminds us of the Volkswagen’s internationally acclaimed Fun Theory. It potentially makes public spaces a little bit more fun and perhaps also a little bit more save. Instead of punishing pedestrians who cross the road illegally, one should give them something to do while waiting. That’s how modern cities try to solve their problems. Also spontaneous interactions in public domain are stimulated by this traffic light game.
The students previously couldn’t get the permission from the city authorities to install the game, which we thought was completely ridiculous. Hildesheim could not have only been the first city in the world to have STREETPONG traffic lights, but Hildesheim could have also been a city we would know about, but thanks to some dull bureaucrats this chance was spoilt and Hildesheim remained a place that none of us knew for way too long. Well, it looks like the city authorities have come to their senses and the game is finally out in the world, where we should have already seen it two years ago.