Interactive technology in public

/ Forever 21 Interactive Billboard

The very first interactive billboard in Times Square features a series of larger than life models who interact with the crowds. Passersby can see themselves on the billboard thanks to high-resolution computer vision cameras. Some of the interactions include the model taking a picture of the crowd with a Polaroid camera, the model picking up a person and kissing them to transform them into a frog, augmented reality that alters the square’s environment around the crowd, and an effect that sketches the face of a passerby onto the model’s T-shirt. All this in real time. In collaboration with space150, Wildbytes created innovative custom made computer vision technology that made all these interactions possible in a massively crowded environment.


It was very impressed when I visited at Time Square at first time. So when I heard assignment of picking a piece of interactive technology in public, this interactive billboard pops up in my brain. I visited again for taking picture and recording video, but there isn’t forever 21 interactive billboard anymore. So based on my experience and memory, I wrote down answers.


• your assumptions as to how it’s used :
Forever 21’s 61-foot digital billboard and realized this device is sort of photo booth. After then, I was looking for where is camera lens and which spot is photo zone. I stood for around 5 minutes for finding spot.

• Describe the context in which it’s being used :
I wondered what the purpose is. Simply, people can enjoy with interactive billboard but through this, it makes people stay in front of ‘Forever 21’. Also it can be impressed advertising for using huge interactive device.

• How people use it, what they do differently :
People behaved similar to me. They are also looking for photo spot. People who find the spot, they make pose front of interactive billboard.

• what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts :
Time Square is crowed with bunch of people. So it is too hard to take photo and find photo zone. These people interrupt passerby, and it makes Time Square more complicated. Easies part is remembering ‘Forever 21’ brand and Time Square.

• How long the whole transaction takes :
Almost 5 minuets.

• How the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see :
In the article, Norman mentioned that good design means that beauty and usability are in balance. Before reading, when I was in Undergraduate at School of Visual Arts (SVA), I learned there is no design without reasons from Carin Goldberg who I really respect. From her, my eyes and design style are totally changed. Similar to this situation, this article causes secondary understanding. Some of interaction machine looks ugly, so I thought people prefer practicality than design. As a designer, my though is design attraction grab people, thanks to design, people start to have attention and then they use. So, my opinion was design is priority. In summery, design and usability both are important.

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