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The emergence of public screens in urban environments is linked to the commercialization of the public domain, insofar as their content is primarily ad- based. Inhabitants of cities are thus treated as consumers rather than citizens. Artists and media activists have frequently attempted to subvert this commercialized approach. In collaboration with Het Nederlands instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (the Dutch Sound and Vision Institute), this study demonstrates that, through the creation of meaningful and location-specific content on semi-public and public screens, inhabitants are motivated to become active citizens rather than passive consumers. Here, the active citizen is encouraged to have a random encounter, or conversation with another person. In this way, this study shows that screens can transform interactions in large cities in an interpersonal and refreshing way.

Workspaces2020 NL

Coach: Marco van Hout – MediaLAB Amsterdam (

Partner: Bell Labs (Alcatel Lucent), Internet of Things dept. // Fahim Kawsar

Research partner: Prof. Jeremy Myerson – Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art (London)

Workspaces2020 JP

Nico-chan is a wearable with a tamagotchi-like app that acts like a digital companion for employees, and suggests social tasks colleagues can perform when they meet each other. The employee can indicate whether these have been performed, and if so Nico-chan becomes happy and rewards the employee with items he/she can collect. It is designed to facilitate open and friendly communication in the Japanese workspace, by creating more social and informal habits that are not usual in Japanese office environments. We hope that by encouraging these social habits we can create a more open & friendly office environment where employees more openly communicate with each other, facilitating the exchange of knowledge between all employees, regardless of title or age.

Coach: Marco van Hout – MediaLAB Amsterdam // Hiroshi Tamura – Re-Public (Japan)

Partner: Innovation Studio Fukuoka

Research partner: Dr. Yasuyuki Hirai – Kyushu University (Japan)