Interactive architecture

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Interactive architecture refers to the branch of architecture which deals with buildings featuring the trio of sensors, processors and effectors, embedded as a core part of its nature and functioning. Interactive architecture encompasses building automation but goes beyond it by including forms of interaction engagements and responses that may lay in pure communication purposes as well as in the emotive and artistic realm, thus entering the field of interactive art.

Interactive architecture part of the Internet of things, a term first coined by Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble, later MIT's Auto-ID Center, in 1999, can include both interior and exterior elements. Within the interior, many technologies are competing to see who will emerge as the dominant communicative signal. 4GLTE LTE (telecommunication) being replaced eventually by 5G, is the obvious solution; however, visible light communication or Li-Fi, a term first introduced by Harald Haas during a 2011 TEDGlobal talk in Edinburgh, is gaining ground as research into this type of data transfer method increases. Interactive architecture and designing buildings with this technology embedded in it is essential in the development of smart cities.

Another essential element in the development of a smart city is the landscape architecture. The space in-between buildings used by the public, or the public realm as it is more commonly termed. There are two levels of communication within the public realm and the difference between the two are commonly accepted as the differentiation between IoT and IoE. IoE, or the Internet of Everything, was a phrase first used by Cisco in an attempt to achieve polarity with competitors that had embraced the term IoT. In Cisco's definition, however, they highlighted interaction with the human node as one main difference between IoT and IoE.

The two public realm communication protocols that make that space a smart space are:

  • The Intelligent Realm, or i-realm, defined as a realm designed with embedded information and communication technology, which allows the silo elements of that space, lighting, ventilation, traffic signals, transportation, waste management, to communicate with one another for the purpose of making that urban area more efficient and effective.
  • The second communication protocol is the Interactive Realm, defined as incorporating all of the technology needed to create an intelligent realm but in addition, using communication methods such as Global Positioning System, geo-fence, near-field communication and embedded Bluetooth Low Energy, to allow communication between the architecture of the space and the consumers of it. Sometimes referred to as the physical web by Google, an interactive realm uses exterior lighting, bollards, street furniture, bus stops and other elements to communicate to the public via their smartphone or tablet.

Whilst IoT concerns itself with communication between objects in order to make the design more efficient and interactive from an operational stand point. IoE in addition also incorporates communication between embedded objects and user devices. The applications include wayfinding, safety, anti-terrorism, targeted advertising, general information such as history of the space or simply just to make the space more enjoyable.

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