Smart traffic lights let pedestrians play Pong with others across the street

For those of us living in a metropolitan area, we all know how boring it can be to wait at a crosswalk. Now, well at least in Hildesheim, Germany anyway, pedestrians can keep themselves entertained by playing the game of Pong against others across the street. Get ready to say goodbye to those red figurines at traffic lights!


Back in 2012, a duo of HAWK University students unveiled a concept for what they dubbed “StreetPong.” Following the immediate virality of its original video (seen below), Makers Amelie Künzler and Sandro Angel were compelled to begin working with design firms and traffic experts to build a fully-functional, game-playing device.

Why? “Because you use it while waiting … and you’re not passive, you’re active,” the team explains. “We think everyone should have the opportunity to sweeten up their waiting time. And we’re also so-called lifesavers, because: Why would you want to cross the street at a red pedestrian light when you have the opportunity to play a game and have fun?”

Two years later, the game units — rebranded as ActiWait — have been completed and approved for use by the German city, where they were installed just a few weeks ago. Pending positive response from its trial, the team hopes to expand to more intersections. In fact, they have already received interest from a number cities spanning across the globe, including Lyon and Oslo.


How it works is relatively simple. SmartPong features a pair of devices, which are comprised of touchscreens enclosed in a 3D-printed cases,  located in plain view of pedestrians on each side of the road. As soon as its adjacent traffic light turns red, walkers can begin playing. Once the traffic light turns green, the little screen reveals a “thumbs up” to notify the pedestrian that they can cross along with how much time they have to get to the other side. Upon the next red light, the game restarts for others to play.

The two-way communication is made possible through an AT86RF233 transceiver, while some other Atmel components can be found embedded inside the touchscreen controllers.


Not only are the devices a clever way to pass the time while waiting for cars, perhaps will help deter jaywalking and increase safety often overlooked by impatient pedestrians darting into traffic.

Why stop at games? Now seeking €35,000 on Indiegogo, the team hopes to enhance its wireless connectivity and design to enable a number of other applications including real-time news feeds, navigation, citizen surveys or even speed dating!  Interested in learning more? Head on over to the team’s crowdfunding campaign page here.

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