TetraBIN explores how digital technologies can be used to motivate positive change in urban environments. It uses gamified approaches – making use of game mechanics and game thinking – turn an activity traditionally considered trivial, such as depositing rubbish into a bin, into a joyful event.
These approaches are designed to enhance the experience of interacting with urban furniture, with the goal of encouraging more active attitudes from people formerly partaking passively in a relatively insignificant activity. In particular it tackles the problem of littering by associating the act of rubbish disposal with a fun and rewarding activity. The act of putting rubbish into a bin is turned into a game, where a piece of rubbish is mapped to an interaction within a game world displayed on a computer controlled screen surrounding the bin.
Depositing of rubbish into a bin, which is normally seen as a passive act requiring minimum thought is given importance as the participant must drop their rubbish into the bin at the right moment to advance further in the game. This experience of an augmented reality in which actions in the real world affect the virtual world lead the participant to consider environmental issues facing the city, specifically the collection and management of waste.
Reminiscent of 8-bit era video games, (remember Super Mario Bros, anyone?) TetraBIN allows players to collaboratively control light blocks on the screen. The pattern of these blocks is affected by the size and shape of your litter, as well as by the timing of your act of disposal.
The work utilises the latest in LED media facade technology. The displays covering the circular surface of the bin were custom-produced and manually assembled. Each display consisted of 900 LEDs that were mounted onto laser-cut Perspex and covered with a translucent layer of polycarbonate. Three pairs of custom-developed infrared sensors per bin were used to recognise rubbish being put into the bin. The code translating the sensors’ signal into visual patterns that correspondent with the algorithms was written with web technologies.
Steven Bai, Sam Johnson, Martin Tomitsch
The TetraBIN was exhibited during Vivid Sydney 2014 and the Robots, Fabrication & Design exhibition in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University.
Further details are available on the TetraBin project website.
Photos by Steven Bai and Martin Tomitsch. Video by Steven Bai.
TetraBIN is based on an original idea developed by Steven Bai and two fellow students during their Bachelor of Design Computing.