“Something very interesting happened in Formula One racing, if you wanted to win, you used to bet your budget on a good car and a good driver. Nowadays, to win the Formula One race, you need a team of people to monitor the car in real time, thousands of sensors collecting information from the car transmitting this information into the system and then processing it and using it in order to back to the car with decisions and changing things in real time, as information is collected.” - Carlo Ratti
Architect Carlo Ratti shares a series of innovative projects that incorporate affective and sensory architecture. No longer are buildings static forms that house our activities. New technology allows us to implant sensors into our space and give us information about how we live. No longer is the computer located in a shell on our desktops but rather is a network of small nodes hidden throughout the open air, just like molecules of water that make a cloud. Ratti runs the MIT Senseable City Lab - which uses sensors and small electronics to infiltrate our built environment and give back data that describes how people move and operate within the city. He notes that cities are only 2% of the earth’s land mass, but contain 50% of the earth’s population, account for 75% of our energy consumption and 80% of our CO2 emissions.
In this short talk, he cites the example of tracking cell phone use in Rome during the final World Cup game when Italy won, visualising surges of communication and radio silence, climaxing in a giant party in the city’s main square. His lab tracked thrown away cell phones and realized they didn’t end up where you would think they would. He also describes projects that take this data to create interactive environments, such as a pavilion with walls made of water and a flexible three dimensional “screen” made up of thousands of LED pixels flown on mini-helicopters.