Affective Balloons – 情感气球 Helena Hang Rong with Shard Island and CIVIS Design (Helena Rong 戎航, Jian Liu 刘剑, Jie Pan 潘杰, Haoze Bian 边昊泽) More than an infrastructural space of circulation, Futian Station is a social confluence point of repose and destination—a vibrant urban public interface where a myriad of stories and passengers unfolds and forms the collective public conscious. Whether it’s joy from reunions, sadness during departures, or anger due to delays, emotions observed in the station are dynamically rich and in constant flux. Affective Balloons addresses the curatorial statement by employing AI technologies as “Eyes of the City”, to map and interact with the emotional landscape of the bustling train station.
Affective Balloons envisions a cluster of soft installation in the form of translucent PVC balloons augmented by LED lights. Responding to the emotions detected in space using AI, the installation is a malleable infrastructure that creates calming and stress-relieving environments with occasional moments of surprises in an otherwise bustling and overwhelming transport hub.
The project uses captured image data to run emotion detection algorithm to monitor and track the shifting emotional landscape within Futian Station. Based on categorization of emotions detected and averaged throughout key points in the station, a central cloud controls the balloons’ color and light intensity (LED lights), as well as the fullness and volume of the balloons for subtle ambient environmental modifications to reflect the collective emotional consciousness of the station. The balloons contract and dim down to accommodate feelings of sadness and doldrums, and expands and brightens to celebrate a jovial and cheerful crowd.
The installation creates a semi-private space which invites a more personal interaction with the visitor. Underneath the canopy, a webcam and screen allow the visitor to see the visualization of emotional landscape across the station. The visitor can make a facial expression at the webcam and change one of the balloon’s form and light, which allows them to recognize the impact of their individual feelings on the collective environment.
The rise of emotion AI detection furthers the viability of accurately assessing human emotions and behaviors. From an architectural design perspective, through the distributed spread of detection and data collection, Futian Station will be able to map out and understand the emotional and behavioral patterns of its visitors in space. Affective Balloons harnesses the power of real-time data by allowing a spatial intervention to respond to people’s emotional needs and provide ambient changes based on fluctuations of emotions in space, both at a collective and an individual level.
Credits: Helena Hang Rong 戎航, Jian Liu 刘剑, Jie Pan 潘杰, Haoze Bian 边昊泽.
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