A little over two years ago, I wrote about Digital light… showing the way. The basic idea was that light could be modulated to provide intelligent, personalized, wayfinding. In my concept, street lighting would be used and I included an animation of how a jogger could use it. “Tall-drinks” has come up with a very similar idea — the difference is, in his concept, each person would have their own source of digital light. He’s even built a simple prototype –for jogging — using a picoprojector. Even better, he’s provided instructions on how to make one for yourself.
Fundamentally we need to understand that a projector is nothing more than a light source — a light source that can be modulated. It’s one good way of creating digital light, something that has been pointed out many times on this site.
Simply projection mapping, you say? This is so much more than projection mapping; it’s something that will make practical differences in everyone’s lives. For some examples, you might want to look at the posts listed below. Some of the applications will seem mundane and that’s exactly the point. Digital light will be part of our everyday lives.
We need to stop equating projectors with screens — “screens are prison cells for pixels“, as Natan Linder says. Once people realize that, a huge number of opportunities open up.
It’s very encouraging to see more and more people experimenting with this. I wonder when mainstream lighting manufacturers wake up to the real potential of digital light and turn it into practical products. Or, maybe it will take some unknown startup on Kickstarter to finally get the ball rolling.
Check out his video below to see Talldrink’s prototype in action. His website has more details– http://talldrinks.com/?p=329 . You can learn how to make your own on his Instructables page: http://www.instructables.com/id/Ground-Projected-Information-Display-for-night-jo/
I’ve written several times before how our industry –and society at large, for that matter — needs to start planning for when gigapixel displays become commonplace. I’m convinced that’s going to happen much sooner than most people think.
So I was very enthusiastic when Adrian Cotterill, editor-in-chief of the DailyDOOH, asked me if I’d speak about gigapixels at the Thought Leadership Summit: Videowalls Unplugged conference. The DailyDOOH organized that event last week at the #NECshowcase in London.
The problem was that I was in Canada and the event was in England. “That’s not a problem“, said Adrian. “Make a video and we’ll present that, instead!” So, with the help of Arc-Media, a talented local production firm, we did just that. On the left is a picture of ‘virtual me’ on stage (photo credit: Andrew Neale)
Here’s what I had to say. Many thanks to The Daily DOOH for letting me use it here. All the opinions in it are mine alone. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.
(this post originally appeared in The Daily DOOH on February 13 2013)
How far does a megapixel go? The answer is not very far at all. One of the points I tried to make in my recent post about the MegaPixel Summit at #ISE2013 was that a million pixels is puny.
That raised a few eyebrows. But let’s take a look at some numbers and you’ll understand what I mean. Displays of many megapixels are easily created today and even a gigapixel (one thousand megapixels) is on the edge of do’able now. Soon, a gigapixel will become mainstream.
(This post also appeared on The Daily DOOH http://www.dailydooh.com/archives/79153)
When I first heard that there was going to be a Megapixel Summit at #ISE2013, my immediate reaction was “it’s about time!”
I’ve been preaching about ‘pixels everywhere’ for a long time and others have too. Pixels on any surface. Pixels as a new building material. Pixels as a new way to think about lighting. Pixels as the paint for massive digital canvases. Any shape, any size, anywhere (and where pixels are almost ‘free’).
But on reflection, my first reaction was actually wrong. I think the organizers have missed an opportunity. There is no new ground being broken it seems. To be fair, the promotional material is pretty clear on what will be covered so no one is being misled.
It’s just that I had hoped for more and here’s why… (continue reading…)
I worry about what all these pixels will be used for. I mean, pixels everywhere is a lot of pixels if they’re really going to be everywhere, right? I’ve come across two people who are thinking about what pixels can do on a large scale.
Architect Greg Tran (subject of a future post) is exploring new ways of seeing the world as it might be. British artist David Hockney points to new ways to see the world as it is. There was a recent article in Technology Review by Martin Gayford about Hockney’s work in this area.
He writes about an array 18 HD displays (about 35 million pixels, which is a lot of pixels, I’m sure you’ll agree). The content was recorded on 9 cameras. Each half of the display shows the same moving scene but slightly displaced in time.
So what? Well, with this simple idea, the viewer can see the scene as is it and as it just was. Or, thinking differently, you can effectively see the scene as it is, and at the same time see what it soon will be. That’s definitely is not how we look at the world now.
David Hockney is a renowned artist and the Technology Review article looks at this work in that light. It is indeed potentially beautiful and enlightening. It’s also something potentially important as a new way of visualization. Imagine this beyond a puny 18 screens, but at room scale or larger.
Hockney is looking at ‘everywhere’ differently. How many other exciting new ways will there be to view the world when there really are unlimited pixels available everywhere?
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:
- we’ll be able to put pixels all over our bodies. They’ll be almost part of us, not just projected onto us (see http://www.pixelizedlight.com/2011/07/pixels-everywhere-i-mean-all-over/) . Why? To reflect our mood, perhaps, or maybe as art or most likely just for fun.
- 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
- fashion … think what Moritz Waldemeyer or Vega Wang could do with this (see: http://www.pixelizedlight.com/2011/07/wearable-pixels/)
- interior design… imagine LED enhanced curtains, furniture fabrics, and wall coverings …potentially taking what Kvadrat and Philips have done to a whole new level (see http://www.pixelizedlight.com/2011/07/big-beautiful-blurry-pixelized-walls/)
- architecture … the mind boggles at what architects could potentially do with flexible building material that illuminates and senses the environment.
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?
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)