Traditional street signs don’t do much more than reveal your exact location when you’re standing on a corner. But what if that street sign were intelligent and able to point in different directions based on what you wanted at the moment? That’s what the small team at the Brooklyn-based digital agency Breakfast wondered. They started thinking of other kinds of information that would be useful to put on a sign, rather than a name, and soon they couldn’t stop.
So Breakfast created Points, a new smart, rotating, digital sign the content and direction of which both move according to what you’re looking for, what’s happening around you, and the time of day. On first glance, Points looks like an old-fashioned street post. But examine it a little closer, and you’ll see the brightness of 16,000 blazing white LED lights; hear the mechanical whirring of each of the sign’s three arms as they constantly pivot around the pole; and see a simple, eye-level interface with different content categories, such as "Food," "Transit," or "Events."
Points’s three arms are constantly changing the information they display, based on dynamic signals they pull in from their surroundings. A category such as "food" might display options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, based on the time of day. Points can also cull data from sources such as Twitter, Foursquare, local transportation APIs, and RSS news feeds—which means you might find an arrow pointing you in the direction of the baseball stadium where tons of people are tweeting scores from the game, or showing you when the next train is arriving or which artist just checked in at a large music festival or what local restaurant is offering a good deal.
The custom API functionality of Points is purposefully designed to accommodate an endless array of possibilities—Breakfast’s creative director Andrew Zolty says each time he’s shown Points to someone, he leaves the experience with yet another idea for an application. Almost all the parts were cut in Breakfast’s Brooklyn headquarters, and Zolty says they’re already at work on next iterations of Points—the team is currently working on street sign arms that don’t make whirring noises when they rotate.
There’s only one Points in existence at the moment—you can tweet at it using the #PointsSign hashtag and watch the livestream video feed from the Breakfast HQ here—but the idea is to rent it out wherever smart street signs make sense, from cities to large conferences and festivals to sporting events and theme parks. Like several other Breakfast projects, such as the kitschy Instagram printer Instaprint, Points wasn’t created for any specific client. It’ll be available to rent starting July 1—Breakfast cofounder Michael Lipton wouldn’t name an exact quote, but he says those interested should expect to pay well north of the current $5,000 a half-day Instaprint rental cost.