pixels             …everywhere.

interior design

Pixels you can walk on

by on Aug.12, 2013, under architecture, interior design, news, research

pixel_walking(as is sometimes the case, our friends at the DailyDOOH also published this article in a slightly different form)

In a presentation I gave at the last Thought Leadership Summit), I analyzed what the ‘perfect pixel‘ size should be for interactivity with large area, up-close displays. I included the scenario where pixels would be on the floor which raised a few eyebrows. I’ve been writing about ‘pixels everywhere‘ for quite some time, but apparently some people think that floors are somewhere pixels ought NOT to be.

GravitySpace2However, some researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany think floors are perfectly good places for pixels. They’ve demonstrated an interactive floor project called GravitySpace, targeted at gaming and pictured here. (continue reading…)

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ArduinoArts’ “Annoying Ikea Lamp” project

by on Sep.20, 2011, under fun, furniture, technology

Last month I blogged about the LuminAR project underway at MIT. Recently on the Hack A Day website I  came across a decidedly low-tech similar project by the folks at Arduino Arts.

Recall that LuminAR combined a pico-projector and camera with control electronics and firmware to achieve a gesture-based digital lamp. Arduino Arts just focused on the controlling a simple desk lamp, but they achieved something that is eerily similar to well-known Pixar animation. Take a look at the YouTube video to see for yourself.

The “annoying” term comes from their website. I think a better word would be “intriguing” because there are so many possibilities.

Now if they could put a pico-projector inside the lamp, and add a camera, well then they would be awfully close to creating something people would recognize as digital light. If LuminAR looked more like this it would be even cooler than it already is.

These guys based their project around the Arduino processor. There are a huge number of people creating projects using the open-source / open-hardware Arduino platform. It’s grown far beyond a cult — it’s a full grown movement. I confess to having a few Arduinos in my lab at home. Google “arduino” and you’ll get many,  many hits.

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Stretchable Light

by on Aug.31, 2011, under fashion, interior design, LED/OLED, technology

I’ve blogged several times about wearable pixels as well as pixels for interior design and architecture.

But for the world to be a canvas for digital light, digital light must conform to the world as it is — a world of moving shapes and forms. Forms that bend, shift and stretch. Projected light does this, but it can be limited by ambient light, sight lines, the color of the surface, and projector positioning issues. Pixels from projected light are really reflected pixels.

But what if the digital canvas could directly emit light, not just reflect it? That would open up a huge number of ways to use digital light.  Recently I posted about work at the University of Illinois-Urbana  where electronic circuits, including circuits with LEDs, could be put directly on the surface of the skin and other flexible surfaces.

stretchable polymer LED

Now, we’ve learned about the work of Dr. Qibing Pei his team at UCLA. The picture shows a blue light emitting surface being stretched 45%. The stretching is reversible.

This is a really important step forward.  So far, we’ve mostly seen bendable light, but those approaches were usually brittle –and bendable isn’t the same as stretchable. The UCLA team solved this by  fabricating transparent electrodes that included single-walled conductive carbon nanotubes and polymer composite electrodes in an  interpenetrating network  of nanotubes and polymer. This created a combined electrode with low sheet resistance, high transparency, high compliance and low surface roughness. They sandwiched a light emitting plastic between two of these new electrodes, applied current, and created stretchable light.

The pictures show a single stretchable light emitting surface…essentially one pixel. But this is just the beginning. Image this scaled up into large numbers of tiny, colorful, controllable, malleable pixels.

It’s early days yet, but imagine this being applied to wall coverings, furniture, curtains, clothes. It all depends on how rugged, scalable –and of course inexpensive– this process will ultimately become.  It’s no stretch (bad pun) to say this could be a big step forward to the pixels-everywhere future.

You can read the UCLA press release here.

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LuminAR

by on Aug.24, 2011, under furniture, research, technology

One of my earliest posts (way back in June) was Seeing the (digital) light. In it, I mentioned one of my early ideas was to use picoprojectors as digital light sources for interactive, responsive, desk lamps and room lighting.

Seeing the (digital) light

Other people have been thinking about responsive light and it should be no surprise that one of those people is at MIT Medialab. Natan Linder has a project called LuminAR that uses a picoprojector as a digital bulb. He combines that with a camera system and a robotic arm and cool things happen… gesture based interaction, lighting, pixel modulation  —digital light!

Natan Linder's LuminAR project

Watch his video below and see for yourself. It’s not pretty –it’s a proof of concept, after all — but I think it’s beautiful!

Pixels everywhere.

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Pixel beauty ..only skin deep?

by on Aug.12, 2011, under architecture, fashion, interior design, LED/OLED, musings, news, novel technology, technology

Yesterday, researchers at the University of Illinois-Urbana announced skin-like patches (here) that have electronic circuits on them and can be put directly on the surface of the skin. Here is an excerpt (emphasis added by me):

“The circuit bends, wrinkles, and stretches with the mechanical properties of skin. The researchers demonstrated their concept through a diverse array of electronic components mounted on a thin, rubbery substrate, including sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.”

The announcement goes on to say:

“The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels very comfortable.”

They emphasize medical applications, but I think this has big implications on the broader digital light/pixels everywhere future. For example:

  • if this technology truly wrinkles, stretches and bends as well as the researchers claim, why restrict it to skin patches? Maybe this is a breakthrough that enables a big leap forward in highly flexible materials for

Fun things to think about on a Friday afternoon! Maybe the pieces are falling into place for ‘pixels everywhere’. The world  is going to be a canvas and you and I will be part of that canvas.

Oh no….are we approaching the digital light singularity … the pixelarity?

 

 

 

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Pixels, pixels, on the wall…

by on Aug.04, 2011, under furniture, interior design, musings, technology

Why do I think that lighting will become pixelized sooner than most people think?

Consider the lowly wall lamp. It might be on the wall of your local cinema or in a restaurant or even in your home.

If we could pixelize it, some really interesting things can happen. Of course it still can illuminate, but it could do much more. Obvious things like adapt color. Or set the mood in the room with soothing scenes or whimsical art. Or enable play. Or communicate with you as part of a group or as an individual. Help you find your way. Help advertisers get their message to you.
This lamp is a lot like an ultra short throw projector, isn’t it? It sure is. That’s why this is going to happen sooner than most people think.

It actually could be done now in a brute-force way.

But for practical, affordable, widespread use what’s needed is low bill of material cost (a lot lower cost than for projection today),  better light efficiency, and ways to get content to the digital lights. We already have wireless and power line communications so getting content to the display won’t be hard. The volumes could be enormous–there are a lot more room lights in the world than there are projectors– and that will help drop costs but there’s a long way to go. Light efficiency could be hard to achieve but work in holographic light modulation (e.g. Light Blue Optics) might be part of the solution if it can be scaled up in brightness. When this begins to happen, pixels will indeed be everywhere.

(thanks once again to Kristina Foster for the animation)

 

 

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Big beautiful blurry pixelized walls…

by on Jul.15, 2011, under architecture, interior design, LED/OLED

My friend Jordan Priede told me about a recent announcement from Philips about LED-illuminated wall coverings which they worked on with Kvadrat Soft Cells. Think of it as LED-illuminated wallpaper targeted at commercial spaces, and it could be a very important step toward the digital light future.

What they’ve done is embed addressable LEDs — I’m guessing pretty low resolution– into a semi-opaque wall covering. Now ordinarily low res LEDs look really awful, especially close up. All you normally would see close up are bright LED points of light that are way too bright–  I certainly wouldn’t want them in a restaurant or lobby.

The clever thing with the Kvadrat/Philips product is that the fabric on the wallpaper blurs the LEDs. Conventional thinking is that blurring is bad, but in this case it makes the image look continuous. Contrast is low and it’s no good as-is for text, but it looks like it might actually work nicely for combining illumination with mood. The video below shows the idea better than the photos do.

If it’s as good as the photos and video in the announcement make it appear, this could actually be useful even in bright environments. This really is a kind of digital light.  I’m sure it won’t be low-cost initially, but low resolution LED displays are dropping in price fast and that bodes well for this sort of application.

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