City Window

Michael-Owen Liston: Designer
Victoria Hammel: Designer
Riccardo Cereser: Designer
Alejandra Molina: Designer
June 2015
Experience Prototyping, Video Prototyping, Interface Design, Service Design

City Window is a live-streaming service that allows tourists to experience a short “micro tour”, guided remotely by a local from the place they are visiting.

City Window was shortlisted for the 2016 Interaction Awards, in the Connecting category!

Watch Alejandra talk about our project and prototyping process here.

City Window

Conceived as a free service, with a “karma economy” model similar to Couchsurfing, City Window offers both tourists and guides an experience of meeting new people from other countries. Guides are able to personally share something they love about their city, and tourists are able to get off the well-trodden path of mass-market group tours.

Tourists can browse available guides by location of tour and particular topics of interest, such as culture, food and drink, or history. The selected guide is notified of an incoming request and given the opportunity to accept or decline. City Window tours are topical but informal, and are time limited, which helps to create a comfortable, casual mood for the participants by keeping the commitment and expectations reasonable.

Visitors share their exact locations on a shared map and, through the camera of their phones, live video of exactly what they are seeing in front of them. Both parties can interact with the map and camera feed — to provide directions on the map, or to call attention to something visible in the live view, for example. Visual feedback is overlaid on both screens.

At the end of the tour, a tourist can thank a guide for the service provided with a voucher for drinks or food through local business partners. City Window could retain a small percentage of such transactions to sustain its operational costs.

City Window was created as part of the Emotive Digital Service course. Our brief was to create a service for live events. We initially explored concepts in the healthcare space – to reduce isolation caused by hospitalization, illness, etc. Our early ideation on concepts of telepresence led us to think about other novel contexts for creating impromptu connections, and we decided to focus on the serendipitous intersection of people, places, and interests. We conducted a series of live prototypes of the City Window concept with tourists in the streets of Copenhagen – using Google Hangouts to simulate the core experience of lending your eyes to a remote guide, and we received very encouraging early feedback.

What I Learned

I learned a lot about how video prototypes could be used as internal communication tools, as well as part of experience prototyping with people on the street. I am proud of how hard we worked to build our own tools on the fly to allow us to test our concepts with people on the street.