Pedestrians will often ignore the "red man" at pedestrian lights in order to cross the road sooner. Unfortunately, this leads to accidents. Car manufacturer Smart created an experiment to see if it could improve safety at traffic lights by incentivizing pedestrians to wait for the green man.
The Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of people waiting to cross a road in Lisbon, Portugal, by displaying a red figure dancing to music rather than the standard static figure. The figure is a low-res representation of people dancing in a nearby booth.
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Individuals were able to enter the booth and choose some music. When it was time for the traffic to begin moving, the music begun and the individual was instructed to begin dancing. A video feed of the individual's dancing was relayed in real-time to the pedestrian lights, with the resulting dancing red figure indicating that pedestrians should wait.
The dancing figure was conceived as a means of keeping pedestrians entertained while they waited to cross the road. An element of gamification was introduced to the concept by allowing people to "be" the dancing figure and thereby contribute to the project.
Similar examples of using entertainment or gamification for positive social outcomes were demonstrated as part of Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign. These included a Piano Staircase that encouraged people to take the stairs instead of the escalator and a Bottle Bank Arcade machine that encouraged people to recycle.
Smart says that the Dancing Traffic Light caused 81 percent more pedestrians to stop and wait for the green light than previously.
The video below shows the experiment.