Why Technology in the Built Environment Connects People to Place

by Gretta Fry


You and I, we are going on a trip! We will plan it out: rental car—a convertible. A hotel near the beach, check! And day trip adventures. We got this! You have each minute planned precisely and I fly by the seat of my pants, both of us with our eager anticipation.

The trip begins with busy monitors to confirm it’s all on time. The glowing kiosk beams the complicated navigation to the gate directly to our phones where we’ve also just selected seats along with our beverage of choice all while waiting to conquer the line through security. The dancing overhead displays’ promises of exotic places tantalize us in 3D—a successful distraction from the impatient crowd.

These integrated and engaged environments are quickly becoming the everyday experience and the story will be about how we navigate the experience. The trending indicator is that which is worthy of publically posting with our networks—bragging rights—of a personal experience. And it better be a good one!

The trending environment is a seamless environment

Technology—video walls, display portals, data driven monitors—is the heavy in bringing this convergence of experience design with the branded environment. Not only is the technology getting faster, better, cheaper, but also the designers are improving the user interface and incorporating the BYOD—bring your own device—to the show. The results are the emerging technologies that change the way we are motivated. Such as not being able to resist the larger than life, stunning HD video kiosks selling that must have at the touch of the screen with a ship it to your door before your home from vacation attitude. But not before you have promoted the sale on the spot via the social network post that brags of the smooth experience as it’s happened. And bam, like that your rewarded with a coupon for your next fix.

The media is the material

Walls, windows, and walkways make up our environments, but the new glue is the responsive technologies that know you are there. Yes, you. Your environment will know who you are, quickly learn why your there, and respond. The LED embedded carpet will navigate your personal path at your pace. The simplicity of your presence will wake up the lavatory to your favorite tangerine shade in a color washing light. The boarding gate will recognize your passport face and offer all the upgrades just for being you. And in your experience, you will respond—specifically to the brand that brought you that experience.

Creating good environments is a partnership of visual values. Architectural graphics, data visualization, and the user experience have a responsibility to serve, inform, and inspire audiences and to enrich lives emotively. As long as you have your smart phone or device in your pocket, the people to place connection will be tight!