Public Media Interfaces:
Sociomedia Garden

Last Update: October 2006


Urban Botanical Garden:

The 'Urban Botanical Garden' is an application for a situated display embedded in a bus stop. It is designed as part of the smart mobilities project initiated by the MIT Design Lab and RATP (French transit authority for public transportation). The bus stop is presented in Paris between October 7 -14, part of the "Le bus, 100 ans de mouvement" exhibition.

The garden application provides a context for a variety of services grouped around the garden metaphor. The application offers two different interaction modalities. Users waiting inside the bus stop engage via a touch screen interface while pedestrians waiting outside interact with a 6ft. custom LED display.


- The garden has a self-organizing structure. By using different sensing modalities, the plants respond to pedestrians and the environment. We use cameras and microphones to detect motion and the ambient sound to generate and position of the plants and make them reflect the changes happening around them.

- The garden has an asynchronous communication interface. Pedestrians leave audio, video or sms/mms messages for each other. Each message left on the garden is represented as a leaf, which can either be viewed or downloaded via mobile phones by others.
Here, the messaging can be structured in a threaded way as users choose different plants to leave their messages.

- The garden hosts a series of services offered by RATP. The current implementation demonstrates the potential use of a trip planner and a contact agent to assist the pedestrians waiting at the bus stop

Below is two screen shots from the application interface:
Left: Main screen
Right: Browsing Messaging Plants


Future Work:

After this initial implementation, I am exploring different kinds of services that can be offered in public media interfaces. My current focuses are:

- building new kinds of social sensors that will let the garden reflect its environments via its relation with its users.

- designing collaborative applications around the same interface, where communities can be formed around the garden by communal care giving or content development/sharing experience. I will also be thinking on different formats to embed the garden in public space in which the context is not necessarily a bus stop.


Garden Application:

Orkan Telhan (Sociable Media Group)
David Bouchard (Ambient Intelligence Group)
in collaboration with Sajid Sadi (Ambient Intelligence Group)

Project Credits:

William J. Mitchell, Federico Casalegno,
Marcel Botha, David Bouchard, Mirja Leinss,
Miguel Menchu, David Raul Poblano,
Orkan Telhan, Sajid Sadi.