Urban Spirits

Urban Spirits


Urban Spirits is a game to promote eco-friendly, creative and aggregative behavior in the context of an urban neighborhood. The game makes innovative use of Smart City sensors and urban spaces, particularly interactive street furnitures and digital facades. Individual users can interact through both smartphones and physical interaction with urban furnitures. In addition, Urban Spirits receives through environmental sensors the actual situation of urban district, using the data received it dynamically changes the game environment.

The story and the game itself are based on the metaphore of the “Urban Spirits”. The purpose of the game is to tame the little spirits through the interaction with the urban surrounding. Each interaction is a little challenge-exercise aimed to fortify the participants sense of social community involvement, creativity and conscious eco-logic behaviours.


  • Explore new hybrid forms of interaction and mediation between real and virtual spaces and communities, physical and digital interfaces, multimedia content and direct participation. Everything with the use and enrichment of existing urban fabric. 
  • To promote creative behaviors in urban environments exploring new forms of street art, augmented architecture and ways of fruition of artistic contents. 
  • Create new connections and modalities of participation and socialization among the residents of an urban neighborhood. 
  • Raise awareness on urban pollution and promote sustainable behavior to limit it.

Solid Interfaces 

The street furniture of the square will be enriched with interactive stations. Each station is a lair of little spirits. Participants are encouraged to explore urban design to tame the spirits: the trees, the street lamps and the benches are lairs to explore, to play and to interact, and to enter into a dialogue with the urban fabric and the spirit of the neighborhood. 

Will be implemented three different types of urban games, one for each type of energy of the spirits: creative, ecological and social. The proposed interactive street furniture and of which we will make a working prototype during the workshop, consists of: 

  1. A street lamp with a small keyboard painted on the pole. Each key corresponds to a color (RGB LED) and sound (wave shield speakers). The lamp is sensitive to the presence of people (PIR sensor). As soon as a player enters its range, it starts a sequence of lights and sounds different each time. The game is to replicate the same sequence, thus gaining access to a QR code for an urban spirit. 
  2. A tree whose base a humidity sensor is placed, and a lighting system (green LEDs) in the drainage grate or on the tree branches . When the sensor measures small amount of water the LEDs light up. Watering the tree will appear an urban spirit on the digital wall, with a QR code that can be taken. 
  3. A bench with RGB LEDs at the bottom and at both ends two metal circles, far enough not to be touched by a single person. The game is to convince another person to touch one of the electrodes with one hand and with the other the mate. So the LEDs will produce light effects, and on the digital wall will appear an urban spirit to be taken. 


Digital Facade 

In addition to small spirits, there is a great spirit in the neighborhood who lives in the digital facade. Like a as a thermometer that measures the state of the district. Inside him are combined on the one hand the data coming form the little spirits, and on the other the overall state of environmental pollution / noise in the neighborhood.  On the one hand the great spirit shows the evolution of the energies of the urban spirits that inhabit the neighborhood, their dens, the number of spirits adopted, the different messages that I send the players via twitter.  On the other hand through the use of sensors smart city are monitored environmental data (air, noise, light pollution, etc. ..) the area around the facade Digital Plaza de las Letras. The state of total pollution in the neighborhood will affect the activity of spirits.  At a glance looking at the main facade able to understand the overall state of the game and the players who are participating and have participated and the ecological status of the entire neighborhood.

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we are looking for collaboration on graphics programming (mainly focused on advanced opengl with shader), visual artists (illustrator, 2D artworks), someone that can help us in integrating animations (flash / after effect or, better, some open source alternatives) on our system, support by interaction designers for physical computing.  

we seek a collaboration to document all the work (making of + presentation) with video and photographic material, support the creation of interactive animations. Furthermore you will have the opportunity to learn something of interfaces based on Arduino and sensors.

A plus could be invole some mobile app ninja for geo-taggig / aumented reality on a mobile user interface, in order to create an APP with a map of the district in which extend the functionality of the game with activities around the urban area.

If you are interested and excited much as we do to participate in this project, please join us following this link:


+ Giovanni M. Zaccaria  Interactive Media/Creative Technologies 
BSc in Biomedical Engineering and MSc in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media at UPF (Barcelona). He participated in research projects at PoliMI's Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Lab and at UPF's Music Technology Group. He was selected for an artistic residency at MediaEstruch. He has a wide perspective on how to pursue an interactive project with interdisciplinary teams. 

+ Alberto Massa  IT Engineer/Research Dev on Computer Vision 
BSc in Computer Science applied in Communication, currently working at Humboldt University (Berlin). He has collaborated with artists for interactive installation, creative coding (Processing, oF, Cinder) and physical computing (Arduino, micros, motors). He is actively involved in Open Tech School. He also loves digital fabrication. 

+ Barbara Fiume  Creative Director/Illustrator 
Someone once asked her if she really lived in the tummy of a giant ladybird.  She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome and Creativity in Advertising at Elisava in Barcelona. She loves: gummy bears, Quentin Blake´s illustrations, Klimt´s paintings, the ice cream van, blueberries, coffee stains, fakirs and peacock feathers.   

We are excited to have the possibility of working on a project that nestles among the architectural elements of the district, encouraging people to develop a more conscious and ecologic behaviour through a fun activity, such as playing a game.  Our expectations are focused on the realization of a functional prototype. More than that, we are excited to have the possibility of proving our skills, challenging ourselves from a technical and social point of view, trying to find a solution able to blend social and urban context. We love the idea of working in such an innovative and technologically advanced space such as MediaLab Prado, collaborating with a professional and expert team of artists, designers and technologists.

Workshop's Debriefing

(Update) Many thanks to Javier Villarroel (Creative Coding, Physical Computing), Clara Ceita (Video, Animation), Nicolas Bustos Torrente (Web Design, Handcrafting) and their invaluable help in developing the prototype. Many Thanks also to the Medialab's supervisors Gorka Cortázar, Guillermo Casado, Sergio Galán for their helpful and wise advices and also for the professional vision and passion that you all transmit in doing your job. Many thanks to Nerea Calvillo and her valuable advices. Finally many thanks to Monica Cachafeiro and the Medialab staff for the support and the great experience. Thank you all for the wonderful time spent together.

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