When we think about the future, we tend to imagine inventions existing today, endowing them with another layer of innovation and modernity. But just as we cannot imagine a colour that we have never seen, it is often difficult for us to conceive of what does not yet exist. Some great films in movie history, however, were able to predict inventions would ultimately flood the society of the future: Marty McFly wore smart clothes in Back to the Future II (1989),  Frank and Dave used tablets in 2001, A Space Odyssey (1968), and Arnold Schwarzenegger travelled in a driverless car in Total Recall (1990).

In an effort to expose citizens to the technology that will inspire the objects of tomorrow, the point of departure towards a connected life destined to transform society as we currently know it, the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation presents the series Connected Beings: How tech makes us better. The exhibit, focusing on the value of information shared through the Internet of Things, opened to the public on March 2nd, coinciding with the GSMA Mobile World Congress. It will be officially inaugurated on Thursday 19 March at 6:00 pm on Floor 1 of the Mobile World Centre.

Organised around 6 newly-created installations designed by developers, artists and research centres, both local and international, Connected Beings offers a reflection on a new system in which visitors will be able to project their individuality and ubiquity in a connected, collective and cooperative setting. 

Experiences that will change the future

A self-tended garden? Experimenting with integrated conductive nanotechnology? The possibility of hearing the sounds of Barcelona’s different districts? Perhaps in a not-so-distant future we will enjoy all these things, now on display at the six installations forming part of Connected Beings:

Connecting the dots, the machine-to-machine journey. In this installation Xavi Tribó, of Glassworks Barcelona, presents an allegory of the transmission of information, represented by digital elements. A data package, a series of bits, a command: these elements’ passage from a connected device to another is repeated trillions of times every day. Every transported point has a meaning, an objective, and this is what this installation seeks to convey by means of the analogy of a robotic tightrope walker.

Iotorama, interacting with the Internet of Things. Alpha-ville, curators of the successful Music+Arts feature, collaborates once again with MWCB on an installation consisting of six interactive screens and a Web experiment. The objective: to show in an entertaining way how lives can be enhanced by combining data and technology. To this end Alpha-ville has designed six touchscreens on which visitors will be able to connect circles, triangles and squares, or what these geometric figures represent here: objects, data sources, and the functions for which they have been designed.

Connected Beings

Image | Alpha-ville

Connected materials, objects’ “awakening.” The Curious Link, the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (CSIC) and the La Salle Campus Barcelona-Universitat Ramón Llull have worked on a multi-part installation in which the physical and digital worlds combine to offer new solutions and experiences. In the first part of the installation the visitor, just by touching a map of Barcelona, will be able to discover the sounds of the city’s different areas, made possible by millions of electrons circulating around the conductive ink with which this map was made. In the second part, paper, ink and nanosensors allow the visitor to create music with a coloured harp, by placing his hands close to the surface. Finally, the third phase of this multi-part installation consists of a luminescent curtain that, by means of an application for mobile devices, changes colour. In this way visitors can transform the room’s lighting by changing the colour of the curtain however they choose while observing the different interactive fabric and fibre optic combinations that are possible.

Connected city, a vision of the smart city. Invenio (Learn by doing) presents for Connected Beings an interactive model of Barcelona constructed completely out of LEGO blocks. The model is designed to show citizens the real functions of a city equipped with the sensors that make it “smart.” In this way those who interact with this installation will be able to see how the Internet of Things makes it possible to adjust the intensity of the public lighting system, provide information about wait times for public transport and the availability of parking spots, inform the cleaning service when waste containers are full, and much more.

Facing connectivity: reflections by visionaries on the future. In this installation designed by HerraizSoto & Co, three busts of visionaries and a girl share with visitors their ideas of an interconnected and ultraconnected world. In the end the experience places the user at the centre of innovation by offering him a chance to interact with his own bust.

Jardi.net, nature can also be technological. Inspired by the Smart Hort project, implemented by the City of Barcelona at the Escola Rel (school), the installation is based on the idea of nature as an inexhaustible source of resources, also for technological solutions. Jardi.net of The Curious Link, The Green Effect and the City Hall show how Arduino boards connected to terrariums can detect the humidity and light levels that plants need for their optimal development.

Pza Catalunya 20

In addition to the six installations the series features an audio-visual selection including interactive content. The documentaries, animations and videos shown have the same objective: to present the Internet of Things’ cornerstones and key areas.

The exhibit, to which admission is free, may be visited Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, until July at the Mobile World Centre in the city centre.