Innovation That Matters

The system contains a static screen for displaying information, and a dynamic directional sign that indicates the path to take | Photo source Rob Uyttersprot

A dynamic system for finding your way in large, crowded spaces

Architecture & Design

A design student has come up with a novel system that uses AI and dynamic signage to control crowding at theme parks

Spotted: A design student at the University of Antwerp has come up with a unique wayfinding system for use in theme parks, which aims to counter the oscillating patterns visitors use when they wander around the parks. The system, called WATO, uses interactive and dynamic signage to “redefine the tension field between the digital and physical world.”

What this amounts to in real life is a system of four signposts, and a system that constantly monitors the busyness of the park areas. The system uses an AI algorithm to determine the perfect distribution of visitors, depending on the time and weather conditions, to avoid overcrowding. When the system notices a difference between the ideal crowd situation and the actual situation, it will change the shape and content of the relevant signposts, guiding guests in a different direction through the park.

Each sign contains both a screen that relays information and the directional indicator that directs guests in the right direction. The static and dynamic components create a tension that helps guests intuitively “feel” the design.

The student, Rob Uyttersprot came up with the idea for the system through his interest in theme parks and interactive design. He explains: “While visiting in ‘den Efteling’ (Netherlands) on a busy summer day in 2019 the idea popped into my mind! How can half the park be empty, and the other half full? I didn’t know the solution yet, but found the problem to write my thesis about!”

A well-designed wayfinding system marries design elegance with practicality to help guide people and control traffic flows. We have seen the importance of the emerging field of wayfinding in a number of recent innovations, including an intuitive lighting system that guides Moscow commuters and a travel app that promotes serendipity.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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