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What the tech

We made a video series exploring the technology on Boston's streets.

Have you ever walked down the street, seen a random piece of technology, and wondered, what the heck is that? Created by the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, "What The Tech" is an educational video series that sheds light on technology in the public realm. The series is part of a larger body of work exploring how to engage residents in the development of technology that shapes our experiences in public spaces. To explore some of the origins of this series check out the Beta Blocks project and the Mechanics experiments with signage that makes technology more discoverable by those passing by on the sidewalk. 


Watch the episodes below as we explore Boston's streets to uncover bits of technology hidden in plain sight.


Watch an Episode


This episode introduces you to the "What the Tech" series and dives into our streetlights and the photocells that control them.

This edition of "What the Tech" goes for a bicycle ride around Boston to ask "What the tech are those skinny poles with suitcases attached?"

Ever wonder what those big boxes at the bottom of some streetlights are and what they do? On this episode, we explain these mysteries of our sidewalk.

Learn more about how these sensors help city planners understand the choreography of the streets.

Ever question the meaning of life when you push a crosswalk button? Come along on our journey to understand what these little buttons do and how they improve our streets for blind and low-vision pedestrians.

On this episode of "What the Tech" we take a look at one of Boston's oldest and most visible pieces of street tech with a visit to Fire Alarm and some on-the-street interaction with a Fire Alarm Box.

How do you measure something that is invisible? Join us as we walk Cummins Highway in Mattapan to look up to the sky and ask "What the Tech is that?"

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