Designers in Vienna created sensors for BBQ smoke, sunscreen, and other telltale signs of the season.

How do you know when summer has arrived? There are the objective measures, of course: the mercury rising, the pools opening, the observance of Memorial Day. But for many of us, it’s a range of visceral signals, tied to the cities we live in, that officially usher in shorts and swimsuit weather—from the brief respite from umbrellas in Seattle to the influx of sweaty, bewildered interns in Washington, D.C.

Johanna Pichlbauer and Mia Meusburger

In Vienna, designers Johanna Pichlbauer and Mia Meusburger got these non-scientific cues down to, well, a science. Their “Summer Scouts” project—designed in a summer course at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna—deployed colorful high-tech sensors around the city to detect seven key signs of summer: tree pollen, biergarten noise, barbecue smoke, sunscreen in pool water, mosquito movement, ice cream scooping, and window-opening on public transit. Once every one of these measurements exceeded a certain threshold, summer had officially arrived.

Johanna Pichlbauer and Mia Meusburger

Judging by the idyllic images in the video, Vienna seems like a fairly perfect place to vacation. We shudder to think what sensors would detect in, say, New York: Number of air conditioner drips per hour? Hot garbage particles per cubic meter of air? Every city summers in its own way. Some do it more comfortably than others.

[H/T: designboom]

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    Why Amsterdam’s Canal Houses Have Endured for 300 Years

    A different kind of wealth distribution in 17th-century Amsterdam paved the way for its quintessential home design.

  2. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

  3. photo: Developer James Rouse visiting Harborplace in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
    Life

    What Happened to Baltimore’s Harborplace?

    The pioneering festival marketplace was among the most trendsetting urban attractions of the last 40 years. Now it’s looking for a new place in a changed city.

  4. Equity

    How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords

    American landlords derive more profit from renters in low-income neighborhoods, researchers Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers find.

  5. Equity

    What ‘Livability’ Looks Like for Black Women

    Livability indexes can obscure the experiences of non-white people. CityLab analyzed the outcomes just for black women, for a different kind of ranking.

×