Points: the socially-powered street sign

Digital agency Breakfast has launched an interactive digital street sign with arms that rotate in response to user requests

Digital agency Breakfast has launched an interactive digital street sign with arms that rotate in response to user requests

Points is powered by online content such as RSS feeds, Twitter hashtags and Foursquare check-ins. From afar, it looks like a traditional three-arm street sign but up close, the arms rotate and the digital display is updated depending on the online content it is programmed to respond to; pointing passers-by to local events, landmarks and popular spots.

Each one also has a menu which passers-by can use to select whether they want to find local transport, offers, meals or events (above).

It can be used by national tourist boards and councils to direct to local landmarks:

To promote conferences, sports matches and concerts:

And even to tell pedestrians when and where the next bus, train or subway is stopping:

It’s the latest in a series of impressive and unusual products from Breakfast – the New York-based agency has also built realtime billboards for concerts using instantly printed Instagrams of attendees and a NASA-inspired Mission Control system for Major League Baseball that collates and analyses ballpark wind speeds and live feeds of game data.

“When we were crafting the idea that would become Breakfast, we gave ourselves the challenge of coming up with concept products that would define the goal our company wanted to achieve – finding completely new ways to connect the real world to the online world. Points was one of those ideas, but in the early days we didn’t have the money, time of skills to pull it off,” explains creative director Andrew Zolty.

“Over the last three years we’ve been slowly designing Points in pockets of time between other projects and a couple of months ago, we committed ourselves to the final manufacturing and development,” he adds.

The biggest challenge for Breakfast, says Zolty, was creating a product that looks like a traditional sign but contains “a massive amount of complex mechanical and electronic parts.”

“We were squeezing so much technology into such a small space (the width of an inner arm is less than 1.5″) that we had to custom manufacture every part [of the sign] in house to make it fit perfectly,” he says.

At the moment, the only Point in use is the one in Breakfast’s office – it can be powered remotely using the hashtag #PointsSign, which will make the sign point towards the origin of the tweet. But since launching the product this week, Zolty says he has received requests from hotels, sporting events and conferences around the world.

“It’s able to be broken down into smaller pieces for transit, then erected in half an hour, and it’s built mainly out of aluminium, so it should withstand the elements of travel without a problem,” he adds. 

To find out more visit: breakfastny.com/points

Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It’s the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a ‘walk-in book’ plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.

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