Urban Atmospheres

Proactive archeology
of our urban landscapes
and emerging technology

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Urban Atmospheres captures a unique, synergistic moment - expanding urban populations, rapid adoption of Bluetooth mobile devices, tiny ad hoc sensor networks, and the widespread influence of wireless technologies across our growing urban landscapes. The United Nations recently reported that 48 percent of the world's population current live in urban areas and that this number is expected to exceed the 50 percent mark world wide by 2007.  In developed nations the number of urban dwellers is even more dramatic - expected to exceed 75%. Current studies project Bluetooth-enabled devices to reach 5.4 billion units by 2005 - five times the number of mobile phones or Internet connections. Mobile phone penetration already exceeds 80% of the population in places like the European Union (EU) and parts of Asia [3]. WiFi hardware is being deployed at the astonishing rate of one every 4 seconds globally.

We argue that now is the time to initiate inspirational research into the very essence of these newly emerging technological urban spaces. We desire to move towards an improved understanding of the emotional experience of urban life. We are currently conducting a number of Urban Probes - a lightweight, provocative, intervention methodology designed to rapidly deconstruct urban situations, reveal new opportunities for technology in urban spaces, and guide future long term research in urban computing.

In fact the very essence of person, place, and community are being redefined by personal wireless digital tools that transcend traditional physical constrains of time and space. New metaphors for visualizing, interacting, and interpreting the real-time ebb and flow of urban places will emerge.  Urban Atmospheres is focused on exposing, deconstructing, and understanding the challenges of this newly emerging moment in urban history and its dramatic influence on technology usage and adoption.

Urban Atmospheres is a collection of newly emerging urban based research projects being conducted across Intel Research. This included not just the work at Intel Research Berkeley but also related projects at Intel's People and Practices (PaPR) Research group in Oregon and others.

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Eric Paulos         Intel Research Berkeley

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