pixels             …everywhere.

Tag: wayfinding

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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Digital light… showing the way

by on Jul.22, 2011, under energy use, musings, novel technology

Yesterday, I posed the question “Why shouldn’t all light be possible to modulate?” and promised to explore where that might take us. Wayfinding is one example.

Wayfinding using digital displays is becoming pretty commonplace. But that just makes  signs smarter — we get the information we need and then we move on. Wayfinding using the GPS in our smartphones isn’t much different. It’s handier because we have the phone with us and we can refer to it whenever we want. But just like the digital sign example, we get the information we need and we move on.

What if the lights around us could actually lead us where we want to go?
After all, there are a lot of light sources. Consider this jogger running at night. If the street lights could be modulated, then maybe the lights could brighten the path where she is running and reduce brightness everywhere else. Maybe the lights could also help her find her way. Street lights today can’t do this, but new generations of lights perhaps could if we thought about light in new ways.

This would make our streets safer. It would reduce light pollution.

It will require big advances in lowering the cost of modulating, steering, and controlling light. This sort of wayfinding wouldn’t need very high resolution, so that would help. Even so, the new generation of street lights would cost more than today but I think the benefits could be worth it.

It will also require advances in the energy efficiency of modulated light… but some interesting work in novel MEMS devices, ultra-miniature motors  and (perhaps) holographic projection might make this possible.
(thanks to Kristina Foster for the animation)

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