Hamburg HafenCity shortly after sunset - Not far from the harbour basin, a moss-covered structure lines the sidewalk of the pedestrian zone. Through the half-open side wall you can see a few children scooping filtered rainwater from a small fountain. A few metres further on, a street lamp lights up shortly afterwards as a woman walks along underneath. No sooner has the passer-by walked on than the light of the lantern dims and throws only a dull cone of light on the ground. A man approaches and stops at an intersection. The fact that the man there at the crossroads has impaired vision is only noticeable because he is carrying a signal stick that vibrates softly as the pedestrian light turns green.
It is the year 2020 - really? For the student teams of the Cross Innovation Class 2019/2020, this cityscape is not a futuristic concept, but a vision for the city of tomorrow that has become reality. At the final presentation last Thursday, the teams presented 10 intelligent prototypes, which they developed in interdisciplinary working groups over a semester with five different industrial partners. The challenges for each individual project were as individual and exciting as the company behind them. A review:
From kickoff to pitch-training
In mid-October 2019, we gathered 36 students from Fachhochschule Wedel, HafenCity Universität, Hamburger Akademie Mode & Design, HAW Hamburg and Leuphana Universität Lüneburg in the Designxport. For the Cross Innovation Class 2019/2020, Ströer, Dataport, Remondis, Vitronic und Westfield Überseequartier had submitted demanding challenges on the topic of Smart City Solutions, which were presented to the students after a short introduction.
Westfield: For Westfield Überseequartier, the students were to solve two related tasks. On the one hand, a solution was sought that would encourage and support the community in the quarter through low-threshold offers and activities. On the other hand, an idea was to be developed that would make positive use of the Hamburg (Schiet)Wetter for the quarter.
Ströer: As a provider of out-of-home media, Ströer was interested in how to depict the mood of the city of tomorrow. The second challenge was to find a micromobility solution that could be easily and efficiently integrated into the company's portfolio.
Remondis: The recycling specialist from NRW needed a concept that would optimise disposal processes in large building complexes. At the same time, the company was faced with the task of developing a solution for improving disposal processes on the plant premises.
Dataport: For the communication service provider, two prototypes were to be built that intuitively convey the rapid changes in road traffic to adults and, at best, lead to adequate action.
Vitronic: The company for image processing systems gave the students the task of developing a prototype that would make weaker road users (children, senior citizens, cyclists, scooters) more quickly recognisable and thus ensure greater safety in road traffic.
This was followed by a phase of researching the topics, dividing up the groups and visiting the respective company to clarify open questions and get a picture of the company. With the impressions gained, the students then went back to their teams and worked on initial concepts for prototypes. They were accompanied by a series of workshops and method training sessions which, on the one hand, introduced them to the prototype and, on the other, repeatedly opened up spaces for feedback, revision and self-organisation. Before the big final presentation, the groups met for a joint pitch training in mid-January 2020, where the presentations of the prototypes were practiced and new feedback was incorporated.
The art of surprising the audience
At the closing event last Thursday, design exports in Hamburg's HafenCity filled up to the last square metre. Over 90 visitors attended the presentation of the 10 prototypes. Tension and anticipation alternated among the students every minute. A jury consisting of industry experts took a seat in the front row and had the opportunity to ask questions after each presentation. But not only the jury was supposed to give feedback. During the subsequent awards ceremony, the audience also had the chance to vote for their favourite. And so much for the voting:
Best Design: The prize for the best design went to Team Westfield with the prototype "The Kinetic Box". Both the concept of a kinetic facade consisting of movable elements that react to movement of the outside world (gestures, sound, light) and the visual design convinced the jury.
Best technical transformation: With the "Intelligent Light System" prototype, Team Vitronic won the prize for the best technical implementation. The jury's reasoning: "The concept of an intelligent streetlight was convincing because it reacts to the environment by means of sensors and combines components from technology, electronics and programming.
Best Smart City Solution: The prize for the best Smart City Solution went to Team Vitronic and the "SilentGuide". The cane for the blind, which vibrates as soon as the traffic light system changes to green, convinced the jury with its visualization and participation as well as its haptics.
Best interdisciplinäry collaboration: With "saflr - everything under control" the Dataport team landed a precision landing for their interdisciplinary cooperation. The group was made up of students from the fields of IT and technology, design management, media, spatial conception and psychology. Their prototype is a smart bicycle handlebar which, based on accident statistics, triggers a vibration as soon as the cyclist approaches a danger zone. In addition, the group has developed an app that suggests the safest route to the destination to the user - also based on accident statistics.
Best Pitch: The prize for the best pitch went to Team Remondis. With their eloquent presentation of the "Limpio" and their innovative idea, the students prevailed over the other teams. Limpio is an intelligent waste separation system for offices, which recognizes waste by its material composition and assigns it to appropriate disposal compartments.
Audience Award: The "Mood Display" by Team Ströer received the most votes from the audience. The display registers the gestures of people from a height of 1.50m upwards and thus makes it possible for citizens to participate by arm signal (raising and lowering of the left/right arm).
An evaluation and further feedback rounds between students, companies and the Creative Society are planned until the end of March. We will keep you up to date on developments and news.