Blending Amsterdam Reality


Takuma Oami

Student Researcher
Stefano Danna

Student Researcher
Annika Kuyper

Student Researcher
Ankit Daftery

Student Researcher
Gijs Gootjes

Project Manager



Final Presentation and Wrap up

It’s over.

Yes, sounds pretty dramatic. And it was every bit as amazing as it sounds dramatic.

On Wednesday 16th January 2013 we had the final presentation of the prototype we developed as a part of our project, in an exposition alongside the two other projects done at mediaLab this semester.

Our project was aimed at answering the question of how to use / design objects in public space to spread awareness about the culture and heritage of Amsterdam. We came up with an interactive installation towards this goal. We made utmost efforts to take care that the installation is appealing, inviting, involves the users and proves to be both fun and learning, irrespective of who they are.

After a quick introduction to the audience, we were the first team to present our project. After quickly introducing ourselves and the project, we dived down quickly into the final prototype, how it works and what it does. A few well supplied questions let us introduce the project better and address common concerns as well. The assigners from Gemeente Amsterdam showed good satisfaction with the outcome and expressed strong possibilities about the future and implementation of the project.

After the presentations we were beseeched by questions and got a lot of good feedback as well as valuable suggestions that will go a long way to making the final result better.

We are now wrapping things up, documenting, adding finishing touches and putting things in place.

Here are some pictures :

Fabricate Fabricate Fabricate

Exciting times are upon us. We are in the last two weeks of the project and trying our best to give a final working prototype as close as possible to the final object for production.

We hardware geeks here (Takuma and me ; ) ) have had an awesome time splurging on hardware for the prototype. Yes, our prototype contains a mixture of an Arduino Leonardo, the Arduino based Peggy2 LED Board, a Raspberry Pi and softpot membranes amongst other things, and are we in geek heaven !

We have developed and tested code for communication between the Arduinos, checked input from the sensors and all is in order. We are waiting to get our hands on the Peggy2 board in the coming two days so we can test out the code and play with the awesomeness that we expect the board to be ( : D ) !

We hope to have pictures and videos of our escapades with these little pieces of awesomeness soon, so stay tuned !

EDIT : We got the Peggy2 board, and the Leonardo, and  put everything together. We also managed to make a pretty good looking installation, here are the images


Team Blending Amsterdam Reality to FabLab

At Tuesdays and Thursdays the FabLab is open for everybody who wants to realize their digital techniques and ideas with machines you cant find in a normal shop (yet). They have 3d printers, lazer and vinyl cutters. We decide to use the laser cutter, which is a machine that works in the 2D plane. It follows your vector drawing and engraves lines and shapes,  and has many more applications. So excited, we bought some Plexiglas XT at the specialized shop in Sloterdijk. Stefeno already makes some pretty nice designs and we are ready for our first FabLab experience for the (trial) prototype. Takuma prepare for all materials and reservations.

Click here to see a video of the fabrication in motion

To explain more about the concept of the prototype:¬†Blending Amsterdam Reality is an interactive platform to explore Amsterdam through space and time. It blends mobile content with physical activation to provide the user a memorable experience of urban history using innovative storytelling techniques”.¬†The physical object is placed in the front of circus Carre. You can easy connect to the (local) web at the location of the object and connect to the mobile web server. So you can find back all information you find in the object also online at your phone or at home.¬†In the FabLab some experts from the Waag Societys Fablab explain the technical possibilities and guide us during the lazer cutter experiments.











Lets building the prototype…

Last few months we found out the definition of the problem and how to solve this problem with a physical object connected with a digital mobile platform. Also we have defined our concept and have a good definition of the target market. Last month we present 3 concept to the Stadsdeel Centrum.

They couldnt decide any of the concept but we decide to take out the best of every concept and make 1 strong concept. From the Boxie concept we took the story telling and gathering, from the face-index and the projection we took the experience and the telescope idea the historical part.

We can describe project Blending Amsterdam Reality as an interactive platform to explore Amsterdam through space and time. It blends mobile content with physical activation to provide the user a memorable experience of urban history using innovative storytelling techniques. The prototype for this project will be delivered at the end of January 2013.

To show the concept we try to map the customer journey and bring together services, products and experiences, it’s the an way to see how users interact and how the brand adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Doing the journey made people admit where it was going wrong, because they could see it all in front of them. We make the costumer journey with a stop motion.

During protyping and making the customer journey we try some human interface with Takuma, see the interview at acemag of Cycloop and Blending Amsterdamūüôā



five phases

We have adopted the methodology suggested by Bas Leurs for this project. This method of design consists of five phases (Research & analysis, Concept, Design, Develop and Implement). The project in entirety being of 20 weeks, each of the Ô¨Āve stages will be¬†allotted 4 weeks each. We are now half way just ended the design phase and start the developing phase. Every phase we summaries the information and presentations at a document. You can find at the category at the left side: ‚ÄĚdocumentation‚ÄĚ.
Research Documentv12
Research presentation

Concept document
Concept presentation

– Design document
Design presentation
Рprototype video 

For regular information you can read our brochure. brochure Urban Amsterdam History

Content searching!

Now we have our final concept, we more concern about the content to define the functionality and design of the physical object.

We separate four different kind of content:

1. Historical information about the former Citywall and her bolwerken, mills and gates .

2. Historical information about the Amstel canals (400 years canal festival 2013).

3. Historical events with famous people (125 years of Carre).

4. Amsterdam Heritage city (UNESCO)

Research – Check. Next step please !

Edit : Here is the link to view our research document – Research Documentv12

So after weeks of conducting interviews,poring through literature and the internet, and meeting lots of awesome people, we concluded with our research phase. Needless to say, we had lots of material to go through, lots of things learnt and lots of insights gathered which will really help us shape our concept.

– It was a lot of fun talking to people waiting on the street, asking them about their visit to Amsterdam

– We were amazed to learn about huge digital archives that exist out there, waiting for people to discover and browse

– Mobile phones are all pervasive, and can be a very good tool to reach out to people, but mobile internet is sketchy in most places and depending on its availability will only handicap the solution

– “Walking around just looking at things” is the most popular activity tourists do

These are just some of the simplest insights we gathered from our research.

A little more about the research phase :

After the research presentation to the assigner, we quickly moved on to the next phase, concepting. How much fun is it when there are 5 people in a room and everybody just comes up with ideas, no matter how silly, awesome or far-fetched ? Lots ! After hours of brainstorming (and some time deciding on the methods to use for brainstorming) , we were able to come up with 80+ ideas. After a few more discussions with stakeholders and third parties and more brainstorming, we were able to root out some of the weaker ideas (its always difficult to not select something you have created, even if its an idea, isn’t it ? )

After a quick autumn break of only four days (or rather even less), armed with dreams from slightly longer sleep and a visit to Paris , we came up with more exciting ideas and by the end of the week, had three exciting concepts that would help us attack our problem statement. After a little polishing, our concepts were ready to be presented. The concepts had a little bit of everything, from robots to telescopes, from mobile phones to free wifi, and were very well received. Now, its time for us to sit down again and remould our concepts into something we hope is awesome enough.

Time to get back to the drawing board !

Keep watching this space for the research document !

Blending Amsterdam Reality Kickoff

Research presentation: check!
Research document: check!
Insights and conclusions: Check!
Finish the first research phase: check!
Weekend and drink a beer: check!


Yes! We finished today our fist phase, the research, of 20 weeks project and present our results of the last 6 weeks of research to the assigner and others. Let me introduce the team and project definition first and recap in short the last few weeks…

I still remember our first day 3th of September, everybody introduce himself or herself with a PechaKuchi presentation. Amazing, because I realize we are going to work together with a lot of nationalities and different kind of backgrounds and disciplines. It was a excited the first day to getting to know the team mates but after this the first week was very busy with workshops, brainstorms and a lot of meetings. The meeting with our assigner was excited too, Marco Cops, an Urban public space artist. We discuss the main question from the Gemeente Amsterdam, stadsdeel Centrum. We are happy our assigner is very open, and gave us the opportunity to fire our questions, enabling us to precisely clarify the scope of the project and discuss our planning for next coming weeks.

At that moment we are still with three of us: Takuma from Japan, Gijs and Annika from Amsterdam and the second week we got the message two other members will join us next month. It’s Ankit from India and Stefano from Italia. In the meanwhile we start to explore the project definition and work on our debriefing and project plan. For details you can read the project plan. But the key question and problem statement are pointed out:

How to combine a marker (landmark) in the public space (or better said a series of landmarks) and an interactive information carrier – using the Smartphone or other new medium or/ and a physical object with each other to use digital history information and current reality situation, which can be blended into an interactive medium.

Amsterdam has a lot of exceptional, crazy, beautiful and unexpected sights and history. This history is unknown to locals and visitors to Amsterdam. These many little-known gems are just waiting to be discovered. More than 65% of all tourists visit Amsterdam because of the city‚Äôs history, culture and its canals (research ATCB, 2012). For example in the 16th Century, there was a city wall around Amsterdam which now stands demolished. Amsterdam is also home to a lot of famous artists, both national and international, a little-known fact. The Gemeente Amsterdam wants to bring this knowledge to the wider public. Beside books and websites, an alternative literary guide to the city could be handy, perhaps in the form of a Smartphone application offering a new perspective on landscapes, buildings and objects. History can also be made tangible (or ‚Äútouchable‚ÄĚ) by blending artifacts from history and reality with new media.

We couldn’t think about other thing because our excitements and even in the weekend on Sundays we bike around the city looking for historical buildings and interesting places. I already live in Amsterdam, but with this project coming I saw the city in a new and inspirational way: )

This for now, Cheers. Annika

Hello world!

Welcome to our blog ! We hope to post awesome stuff we create and come across while we work on our project, Blending Amsterdam Reality, on this blog.

To begin with, you can browse through our photo gallery on Flickr here : Flickr Stream