Enhancing street-level interactions in smart cities through interactive and modular furniture


The idea of smart cities is becoming part of our reality and it represents the transformation that urban areas should undergo to create more sustainable and efficient spaces. Through the combination of technology to gather data, people to produce them and stakeholders’ creativity, the smart cities provide tools and mechanisms that bring greater value to the environment and, in the end, improve citizens quality of life. Although the concept of a smart city is evolving fast in terms of technology adoption and user involvement, the new interactive objects that will be deployed in those smart environments to create street-level interactions are still dubious. Hence, this article contributes to presenting the implementation of a multifunctional digital system, in the form of smart furniture, to be deployed in the smart cities. The proposed smart object is a modular and customizable kiosk, resembling a totem, specifically designed to fit into this digital transformation and to respond to users’ needs by offering contextualized information and services. The included integrated hardware elements interact digitally and physically with users, sense environmental conditions and send the captured data to the cloud, where remote management tools allow to control and configure the whole setup. The presented smart totem has been customized for two different use-cases to highlight the adaptability of the system to fit for different purposes. Moreover, one of the use-cases has been thoroughly evaluated after being deployed for 6 months in the wild at the Chinese and Japanese Garden of Singapore. The quantitative data gathered throughout this study along with the obtained qualitative users’ feedback, help to provide insights for the convenience of deploying new interactive furniture in smart cities, the adoption barriers of such physical systems, and the new opportunities that these street-level interactions can elicit.