Vote With Your Feet

Gamifying life is silly, fun, and a great way to interact with those strangers who you pass everyday. Here’s one example that might just pop up along your next walk to work. It’s a way to take a very unscientific straw poll on any topic — you won’t even have to use your hands to cast a ballot.

A group called [Vote With Your Feet] has come up with a novel way of casting ballots. Simply walk down the sidewalk and through one of two doorways, each labeled with either side of a dichotomy. Each doorway is able to count the number of people that pass through it, so any issue imaginable can be polled. They already did vim vs emacs (59 to 27),  and we’d like to see Keynes vs Hayek, or even Ovaltine vs Nesquik. Users can send the machine new issues for the masses to vote on, so the entertainment is quite literally limited only by your imagination.

thumbThe physical build is well documented. Since this is used outside, the choice of a flipdot display (of course always fun to play with) is perfect for this high-contrast in any level of light. Each doorway has a break-beam sensor which is monitored by the Raspberry Pi driving the overhead display (here’s code for it all if you want to dig in).

The point of this art installation like this is to get people to interact with their environment in a novel way, which this project has accomplished exceptionally well. In 3 days, they registered over 10,000 votes which are viewable on their website. If you have a project in mind that calls for data visualization you might want to keep this in your back pocket.

We have also seen other ways that doorways can count people outside of voting, if you’re looking for any inspiration yourself.

25 thoughts on “Vote With Your Feet

    1. And walking through a doorway actually triggers a garbage collector is one´s brain.
      (check for ex.
      This raises an interesting question: what stuff can one have in the head, that can be forgotten without “collateral damage” ?
      Voting by crossing a door is a VERY interesting concept, from both a philosophical and symbolist point of view. Makes one forget they live in a non-democratic republic. What is sure, is that everybody will remember which door was just crossed.

      1. Very interesting, thanks for the link. My guess: we have not just long-term and short-term memory, but also ultra-short-term memory, which we use for things like doing math in our heads. Going through a doorway symbolizes a change in context, which may be what causes us to dump the ultra-short memory. But in my experience, just walking may be enough. I worked as a test and calibration technician many years ago, and we had an area where the techs had our workbenches, and at one end of that was the parts room. I never had any trouble until they moved the parts room. Originally I had been about 30 feet from the parts, and after the move it was about twice as far. This was all it took – from then on, I had to remind myself along the way what I was going to pick up, or I would forget by the time i got there. Didn’t matter if it was something like “470 ohm” or “151-0190-04”, either – too many steps away and it was gone.

        1. I can confirm this experience (number of steps) – and add, in a positive way, that I use to get up and walk around when I take a new client’s call on the phone, in order to free my mind from whatever job I was occupied with just before I picked up the phone.
          Same applies to solving problems: Changing environment (for me: walking the dogs) usually frees up enough synapses to apply a “new perspective” on something that boggles me.

          Doors are, however, cool things anyway. Ask any door manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

        1. I agree, this is not just not a new environment but there isn’t even a door, it’s just a few pieces of wood.
          But you could of course simply move the installation to an entrance of something, say to a park or a lobby of something public.

    1. “The point of this art installation like this is to get people to interact with their environment in a novel way,”

      Yah, art installation and novel used in the same sentence usually get me friction burn in the eye sockets from rolling them so hard.

    2. So the summary never said ‘innovative’ so ‘quoting’ it is a bit deceitful. The word the used was ‘novel’ which includes ‘unusual’, and as the author, and most of the readers here are not part of a German parliament, it would in fact be novel (unusual in an interesting way).

      And I’d even go so far as ‘innovative’ (your words, not theirs) as I doubt neither the Germans, nor the Romans used a $35 SBC and some break beam sensors to provide a system that can have the choices changed easily, as well as making the results instantly available via a web interface.

  1. This could use a few things to improve it’s usability, say for instance an RFID scanner field to record every persons unsecured RFID cards that passes through, and something to blow a small rfid tag onto their hair as they pass. Any other suggestions for seditious acts of malfeasance? :D

  2. I keep finding myself thinking the girl in the animated GIF is hopping through the scene. There’s lots of variation in how people walk, but this is some dramatic up-and-down going on in this person’s stride.

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