The always creative students at NYU Interactive Technology Program (ITP) have have a project to give the mundane pedestrian street signal more personality. Entitled Pop Pop and designed by Alexandra CoymSam Slover, and Steve Cordova, the goal is quite simply to make “daily life more interesting,” according to the Pop Pop website, and “to make people feel more connected to their neighborhoods.” The description continues:

“Pop Pop” can be imagined like a caring older gentleman who is protective of his intersection: he wants to make sure everyone is safe and happy as they cross through his intersection.

There are two panels: one that displays Pop Pop’s emotional state, and an another that shows text, enabling Pop Pop to communicate with pedestrians. Pop Pop will say things like “Have a fun day!”and “Keep Smiling!”.  On the other end of the spectrum, there’s “STOP jay walking!”, “I’m so sleepy,” On the tech end, Pop Pop collects real time, hyperlocal data and utilizes the Mechnical Turk community (real people!) to report on what’s happening in the intersection. This observational data is combined with information about the weather, time of day, crime, and more, to create an emotion level. Currently, they’ve programmed the emotion levels as follows:

  • Far Above: Distressed
  • Above:  Nervous
  • Slightly Above:  Alarmed
  • ON:  Attentive
  • Slightly Below:  Restless
  • Below:  Troubled
  • Far Below: Depressed

You can read more about the students’ prototyping process and more on