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.
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.
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!
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!
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)
You may have already read about Mirrus‘ digital mirror installation at O’Hare Airport. A digital display shows a full screen advertisement, but when a person approaches the display, the ad shrinks to one corner and the display becomes a mirror. I like the fact it responds to people approaching it. Thankfully, there is no mention of touch interaction there — this is probably one type of installation where touch is definitely not appropriate! There are a number of videos on the web about the O’Hare installation including the one below:
The Mirrus website also shows something called CoolerVision which displays content on glass freezer doors in grocery stores. I think the addition of gesture response would be very effective in installations like this one.