The Path is the Reward: How can Social Networking be used in Pedestrian Navigation Systems to contribute to the Pleasure of Urban Strolling?

Developed by Martin Traunmueller during Summer 2012 as Thesis Project for the
MSc Adaptive Architecture & Computation, The Bartlett / UCL.

Since the introduction of the internet to the public, the term of navigation has been extended into the digital dimension – we navigate not only through physical built environment, but also within the digital layer that has been attached to it. Existing theories on people movement, emphasizing the target orientated process of pedestrian navigation through the urban landscape, define a solid base for the development of wayfinding algorithms used in common pedestrian routing systems. Such systems like Google Maps and TomTom are trained to generate the shortest and less time consuming path for the user to reach a certain destination from his origin location, not taking into account the user’s actual walking experience.
In times of ubiquitous computing and the rise of new media within the cityscape, we ask how digital technology can contribute to the pleasure of urban strolling. The project investigates the relationship between physical and digital urban navigation and describes a new approach to wayfinding by implementing common digital online methods of comment and recommender systems into the physical world. Those methods are being translated into the urban environment, using Facebook voting data to generate an alternative to the shortest route in order to maximize the pleasure of a walking experience through the urban fabric. Initial findings highlight the general importance of the walking experience to the public and suggest that implementing recommendations, based on social media voting systems, in route finding algorithms for mobile applications enhance the pleasure of urban strolling. The testing of the system in a real world context together with collected feedback and the observations throughout the design process stimulate the discussions of wider issues, especially the performance in different urban layouts, and highlight the potential for a Space Recommender System as location based mobile experience, based on public preferences.


Exploring spatial / a-spatial relationships of football games using Twitter data

Morphogenetic Programming
Martin Traunmueller

MSc AAC / UCL, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Tutors: Martha Tsigkari, Angelos Chronis

The project investigates spatial and a-spatial relationships of football games in the metropolitan area of London, within a one-week-timeframe in May, 2010. The visualization shows the physical event-settings and the digital tweets, talking about a certain event. As far as an event is happening where people talk about it, the physical location gets pulled towards the centerpoint, the gravity, of the tweets, till it finds it’s equilibrium, using a Particle-Spring-System. The resulting position shows the actual location in terms of interest and talk-activity within the urban landscape.

Modelling mediated urban space through geo-located social micro blogging

City As Interface
Stephanos Gkougkoustamos, Yimeng Tang, Martin Traunmueller

MSc Adaptive Architecture & Computation / UCL, Bartlett – School of Graduate Studies
Tutor: Ava Fatah gen Schieck

Modelling mediated urban space through geo-located social micro blogging
Modern cities are experiencing a paradigm shift in the socio-political spectrum. New technologies and social media materialize the inexorable and rapid flow of information in the modern metropolis. The recent examples of the Northern Africa countries (the Arab spring), as well as the events of the Arab world act as a proof of how these new information platforms interlink and connect our world. The Occupy movement gained momentum with the constant flow of information through social networking media; a different social act than the “liberation” protests, but nonetheless a product of the recession and social unrest in the western world. Another more recent model for the use of such means was the American Presidential Election, where millions of dollars were spent on web advertising and the flow of news through social media, with people sharing information related to the constant change of dynamics between the two presidential candidates.
New media and ubiquitous computing play a significant role in today’s urban environment. The city generates increasing amounts of data on various platforms including digital and physical, mobile and social, via various data sources such as Twitter, Google Maps and Facebook. Technological innovations form a digital layer over the city’s physical topography, containing rich data-sets for urban social life correlating the inhabitants’ social behavior to the physical space. In this respect, we need to understand how pervasive technologies interrelate and interweave with the built environment.
This paper explores the hybrid nature of mediated urban space in the contemporary city, consisting of architectural spaces interlinked with the digital; situated and networked. We suggest an alternative way of looking into the city, using digitally augmented methods beyond the traditionally established ones in urban design and spatial analysis. Taking the physical space as a starting point, we apply an eco-systemic model to investigate mediated urban forces in the city of London. We identify the implications for the city through mapping, visualization and analysis of geo-located social micro blogging in the form of Twitter data.
The investigation of this project is related to every day scenarios encountered within the city. The social acts of the individuals are linked to the information gained from measurable datasets and then correlated to the existing urban conditions; from onetime events to recurrent incidents. It is an investigation of people’s reaction in constant shifts to the built environment and the information shared among different social or peer groups. The discussion of this project is mainly concentrated on the results of time-based patterns on geo-located Twitter flows and urban conditions, outlining initial observations about the city and its digital apparatus. By exploring how technology mediates sociality through Twitter channels and the creation of potentially new social representation forms, the project outlines the influence of those mechanisms on the social, cultural and political life of cities.

The Project got accepted as Full Paper at the MediaCities 4,                                 2.- 5. May 2013, Buffalo / NY.

check out the PROCESS blog

Physical Computing Workshop 2012 (I)-yclops

In a society where CCTV cameras are increasingly being used at all scales ranging from private security, policing surveillance to governmental monitoring, we can no longer escape the eyes behind the lens of those watching us. This project explores the notion of surveillance and questions its impact in our culture today. At the same time, CCTV cameras draw upon one’s paronoia but it also instigates a fascination and narcissism of the subject being watched evident in the popularity of ‘Big Brother’. (I)-yclops was created as a whimsical creature. The Edwardian sculpture metamorphosized into a technological eye which pans 360 degrees watching you in all directions. Its intense gaze from the pupil looks at you left and right, up and down. It blinks and sometimes falls asleep with its eyelids shut when there is nothing interesting to look at. (I)-yclop’s home is on UCL’s quadrangle where Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon is preserved in the South Cloisters since 1850. (I)-yclops pays respect to Bentham as a translation of Bentham’s notion of the panopticon in a contemporary computerized society.

Project by:
Ami Kito, Ana Maria Moutinho, Hiromi Mikuriya, Martin Traunmueller, Norraniti Prougestaporn, Ryan Mehanna, Young Jin Sunwoo.

Workdshop Leaders:
Ruairi Glynn, John Nussey, Ollie Palmer

Bartlett School
University College London

Tina, the private Dancer.

This is my “Body as Interface” -project for the MSc Adatpive Architecture and Computation course at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies (UCL). (

The project investigates the relationship between a human and a digital dancer – Tina – and resulting tension-fields that occur within space, as a continuation of a workshop from nov2011 at the Bartlett, UCL. It shows the process and parts of the workflow, leading to an interactive spatial installation, presented to the public on December, 16th 2011.

performance dancer: katja nyqvist [roehampton university]
installation set up & coding: martin traunmueller
tool: processing 1.5.1.
music: oceansize – unravel stephan mathieu – flimmer