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City Tinker is an AR platform for local citizens to articulate their ideas about how to make their community a better place to live. Bringing participatory designs to the urban planning process, this project turns urban development from a top-down bureaucracy into a bottom-up democracy. In an AR-based environment, locals may voice their opinions and perspectives in a casual yet effective way. 

Time / 

07/2018 (2 weeks) 

Skills & Tools / 

Unity, Sketch, UX/UI

Type / 

Initially concept with Hyejin Lim

How can citizens contribute to a better community?




If you think the community need a dog waste station,

how about deploying one on your own?


If you see a loose screw on the swing, how about leave a note as a notice?


You could also see and comment on other people's ideas on how to make a better community.

Urban planning, in most cases, has been a top-down process. Right now, more and more design practices are dedicated to involving more citizens' participation in this process. With the same intention in mind, we're eager to know about LA local citizens' opinions on their living communities:


How do you evaluate the transparency of urban planning decision-making process?

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How are you satisfied with the community you living in now?

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Why choose to do nothing even if you realize problems in your communities?


"I don't think I can make any change even if I pointed it out"


"I'm just a lazy person. I can imagine it's troublesome."


What will you do if you find out problems of your community?

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82% Doing Nothing


"I don't know how and where I can voice out these problems."

Due to the lack of proper channel/platform and the fact that citizens feel their individual voice won't make any change, a lot of citizens reject to voice out their opinions about their living communities. At the same time, governments and authorities spend a huge amount of time and money to investigate citizens' opinions about urban planning. A platform is needed to function as a bridge between governments and citizens. That's how the idea of 'City Tinker' came out:

82% Do Nothing

City Tinker


Augmented Reality allows an extra layer, upon reality, for citizens to 'play out' their ideal community. By simply positioning the virtual infrastructures in the reality around the community, not only citizens participate in the urban planning process but also local authorities have a channel to hear from the local citizens.


"I want to know the user who positioned a certain item."

"If possible, I would like to chat or follow other users and see their contributions to the community."

"Can I put AR notes or comments on the existing infrastructures?"

"Can I comment, like or dislike an AR infrastructure?"

A lot of valuable feedback was gathered during user testing. The final design was made with demanding features and functionalities based on feedback. The interface was made as intuitive as possible, with the intention of gamification, in order to involve more and more citizens' participation at ease.

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Augmented Reality is such a big opportunity in interaction design. However, approaching this technology with the most proper and necessary application has always been a challenge. For me, AR is an extra layer upon reality, which means this layer must have an indispensable relationship with reality. It allows imagination and freedom. It's approachable by everyone. In this project, the AR virtual city reflects the expectations of citizens. The freedom and accessibility of this platform could involve more and more bottom-up participation in the urban planning process.

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