Myriel Milicevic «Neighbourhood Satellite» 2005.
Just as satellites monitor and relay their findings from one place to another, people could become probes themselves, searching for particles and signals within the galaxies of their neighbourhoods. With my thesis I hope to enable people for playful grass-roots monitoring, where the presence of contaminants in a community can be known and charted by anyone.
Equipped with a mobile sensing device and transmitter, they would have the ability to uncover, examine, and share the environmental data that they collect. This data also influences the structure of a digital game world, where the parameters are closely related to the sensing activities.
My goal is a working prototype that people could take and walk with through the city. It became a kit consisting of two parts: in the one hand the satellite as sensing device and game controller, in the other a little video display for the game and other readout. As we move through the city, mobile devices allow us to enjoy remote networking and immersion in personal entertainment.
These preoccupations, however, lessen our sensitivity to what is happening directly around us, and often we learn about our own environmental conditions through mediated sources. What if mobile technology could reconnect us to our surroundings by observing environmental data directly, data that had been obscured to us before?
These explorations would encourage a more conscious individual behaviour, spreading cumulatively to neighbouring communities. In its current prototype form, the satellite can discover two different kinds of environmental inputs. It senses air quality and light values. Each of these elements will affect the game later in a different way, depending on the levels detected. The air quality sensor is capable of distinguishing between a range of different gases. I was using however only the overall intensity detected.
Blogged: Neighbourhood Satellites are handheld sensing devices that monitor people's local environment. In its current prototype form, the satellite is able to sense air quality, light, and the presence of cell phone signals. The data collected is presented in three different modes: - In "status" mode, it displays the current conditions. - In game mode, the satellite leads a parallel existence inside a video screen, navigating amongst the offending pollutants in need of analysis. - In map mode, the system receives data from the other 'satellites' carried by people in the area, and displays on a map, their location and contamination level. This mode could generate some interesting behaviours: A group of players, gathering in larger numbers at polluted street junctions, navigating their satellites through thick air, might just as well be interpreted as a silent protest. The way the satellite is tilted by the hand controls its navigation on the screen. So the satellite’s position in the hand is just as relevant to the game as the position of the player inside a space. The satellite also communicates through tangible behaviour. For example, when approaching air pollutants onscreen, the satellite inside the game will suck in air to capture specimen. Simultaneously, the physical satellite emits streams of air that the player can feel in his hand. A gentle vibration accompanies the sensation.