A typical health-related billboard tries to sell you something–a gym membership, weight-loss surgery, a lower-calorie snack. But this conceptual billboard does nothing but cheer if you happen to walk by instead of driving in a car. The faster you walk or run, the louder the crowd screams.
“It’s just something I do myself when I’m out jogging,” says designer Sarah Weigold. “I imagine that I’m this big Olympic star running around with a crowd cheering me on. It’s my sort of motivator. So I just made that into a real thing.”
Though the design is a concept, Weigold says that it wouldn’t be difficult to build. She compares it to existing speed sensors on roads. “If someone’s going over the speed limit, it throws them a sad face. If they’re going under, it shows a happy face. The technology is definitely there.”
Because it’s a simple motivator, Weigold thinks that it might be a little more effective than trying to convince people to make major lifestyle changes at once. “I wanted to make something really little, instead of weekly targets of so many hours,” she explains. “It’s something that you wouldn’t feel guilty about not achieving. You can just take a few seconds and be slightly better, rather than falling short of a massive target.”
She envisions the design fitting into a larger program that would connect people for community support as they exercise. “For me, it was all about making people that their actions were significant,” she says. “In the short term, it’s a cheering crowd. In the long term, it was grouping people together so that their little bit of effort adds up to something.”
The design is one of a growing number of ideas to repurpose the ubiquitous billboard for something other than advertising. So far, we’ve seen billboards that can make clean drinking water, track air quality, house the homeless, and advertise art instead of products.