Sensemakers made use of wearable technology and public engagement workshops to explore how citizens of Johannesburg in South Africa perceive their experience of safety in the city. This project explores what constitute a resilient community where citizens are empowered to contribute to their city.
I was invited as a wearable technology artist to do a 3 weeks residency in South Africa as part of Fak’ugesi Digital Innovation Festival 2015. The brief of the residency was to come out with a project based on public engagement with residents of Johannesburg in imagining the future of the city through technology. I was interested in using wearable technology to explore how residents of Johannesburg perceive their experience of walking in the city, and also to test out the potential of WearON platform.
A series of workshops were hosted during which participants engaged in debates and discussions on what concerns them about their city. The topic of Safety in the city and the participants’ experiences became a driving factor for the design and function of the wearable devices. I then went on to create 10 wearable-tech devices whereby the aesthetic were designed by participants in the workshop. They were then worn by different participants for a period of 1 week to track their perception of safety in the city. Powered by WearON, the wearables were designed to be real-time body gesture tracking devices, coupled with real time connectivity between wearers (i.e. wearer gets alerted through vibration if their partner was perceived to be unsafe). Participants can either choose to walk in pairs ( but far from each other) or as individual.