The Active Light Cloud was conceived as an innovative approach to how we light the world of tomorrow. Using advanced computer vision that tracks any human movement against the basic static interior space, and inductively expands on that gesture to create an expanded field of pixel vectors, the system is able to predict the user’s particular lighting needs. Users can throw light down a dark hallway or bring a cluster of task light with a single gesture. Most importantly it knows to turn off the lights once the room is empty, dramatically reducing energy consumption.
In addition to the initial reason for the project, it has become evident that the work is relevant in a number of areas beyond that of lighting. Innovative in this system is the use of computer processed cameras to automate, indeed activate a designed environment that is responsive to the user. This is important as it brings us closer to thinking of the built environment as an intelligent, adaptive, and responsive platform for engagement. This work has spun off several new projects that I am now working on that further the notion of responsive and activated architecture.
The functional prototype of Active Cloud Lighting was developed in collaboration with SAIC’s world renowned art and technology professors, most notably Matt Nelson, Systems Programmer, Ed Bennet, Electronic Systems Designer, Anna Yu,Systems Production Supervisor, and John Manning, System Executive Producer. The system’s programmed intelligence can be extended into a wide range of commercial and residential situations. Light switches might soon be replaced by a wide variety of gestures, controlling the affect and impact of our interior lighting in more intimate, fluid, intelligent, and environmentally conscious manner.
intelligent, and environmentally conscious manner.
Schematic Diagram and Technical Data
The Active Light Cloud sensory intelligence is based on data provided by an over head camera. The camera then sends a live feed to a central computer running custom software that was developed for this project in collaboration with Matt Nelson (SAIC). This software actually runs a fluid dynamic simulation on the video feed. The simulation is a complex physics algorithm that allows for the Active Light Cloud’s unique responsive fluid- like behavior. The data at this point is then sent out to a series of small microcontrollers called the ArtBus.
The Active Light Cloud is distributed into the physical architecture it illuminates using a simple hardware communication system known as the ArtBus (pictured to the left.) The ArtBus was developed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Art and Technology Department, to encourage relatively inexperienced art and design students to expand their ideas into the built world. Called the Artbus, it uses a simple, clear protocol that is surprisingly powerful once you learn the communication language. Based on the same microchip as the very popular Arduino embedded computer, the Artbus comes in two flavors: digital I/O, which is used in the Active Light Cloud prototype, and analog / digital conversion.
The Artbus proved to be the perfect platform for the Active Light Cloud project due to its flexible and scalable architecture. In concert with the Active Light Cloud software application, the Artbus directs a symphony of lights that respond to our every movement.
This project would not have been possible without the unbelievable support and expert guidance from the Emerging Technologies Program founder, Anders Nereim and the direct support of the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects.
Matt Nelson, Systems Programmer, Ed Bennet, Electronic Systems Designer, Anna Yu, Systems Production Supervisor, and John Manning, System Executive Producer.
It has been great pleasure to exhibit the Active Light Cloud several times over the past year. The first exhibit was at Fabrica Del Vapore, Milan, Italy, in conjunction with Salone del International, Milan’s annual design show.
2000 Watt Living, Fabrica del Vapore, Milan, Italy
2009 Graduate Exhibition, Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
2009 ACADIA Conference, The Art Institute of Chicago
(American Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture)
Active Light Cloud - Bo Rodda
This video was taken shortly before unveiling the Active Light Cloud in Milan. Pictured is Cara Ellis testing out the system's responsiveness.
active light cloud_bo rodda.mp4
A longer video showing the Active Light Cloud in development as well as being demonstrated at the ACADIA Conference at the Art Institute of Chicago, Fabrica in Milan, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Platform 01, Beppu, Japan
(re)ACT is an interactive artwork/ installation that explores the potential of activated architecture. More specifically, architecture that is responsive to the user by visually or kinetic engagement. In this piece, viewer sees her or himself being projected through a traditional Shoji screen. The viewer quickly sees that their movements can actually create visual elements on the screen. In this piece, I simply made the letters (Re) and the Chinese character meaning to change, rebuild, to remake. These symbols then seem to network and interact with one another while responding to the movements of the viewer. I intentionally chose the to use the Shoji screen for the piece as it is an excellent translucent medium for projection (rice paper), and that it immediately provides the juxtaposition of tradition/ old world with the digital, new world.
The piece is premised on the acknowledgment and acceptance that new technologies, primarily the internet, have drastically and irreversibly changed our engagement and relationship with each other, our towns and cities, and the world. New social and economic realities are drastically reshaping our society. The internet has created a state of Flux. In this state, hyper mobility, accessibility, and simultaneity are the rule.
The work was installed at the entrance to Platform(01), an art space located Beppu, Japan.
re(ACT) by Bo Rodda.MP4
Interactive Video Installation at Platform 01 in Beppu, Oita, Japan by Bo Rodda.
Imagine walking across the Michigan Ave Bridge in downtown Chicago at night, you take in perhaps the greatest city view in the world. You notice that not just the buildings are lit for your enjoyment but the river as well. Before you a sea of lights twinkle from below the surface of the water. A boat slowly approaches, its hull licked by glowing tendrils of light from below, its wake an etherial ripple of space. The vessel almost seems to hang two worlds, pushing ahead in a sea of glimmering light. As you watch this unearthly scene from above you begin to recognize patterns. You may or may not remember these patterns, these celestial forms, but deep down you know them well. There l is an ancient familiarity to the lights you see. Indeed every person of every generation save this one and the last few knew these lights well as they guided our ships and lit our way. Stirring our imaginations, they afforded a stage of infinite proportion for our dreams to visit and and stories to take form. Indeed, this is the realm of the gods as told in the ancient stories and myths of our ancestors. The lights you see below are beacons in the night bridging this world and the next. Glimmering through the depths below, you see the stars.
Bridges is an urban scale project that seeks to bring the wonder of the night sky back to the people of Chicago. I intend to install nearly a thousand special high powered lights that would be installed into the bed of the Chicago River between the Michigan Ave Bridge to the State Street Bridge. These lights would be programmed to actively reflect the actual celestial bodies as they would appear above if one could see beyond the glow Chicago’s lights. The site I chose is in the heart of the city, and is the most scenic part of the a city that has many, this is precisely why I chose it. Here the people of Chicago and tourists alike come to marvel the world class architecture looming above the Chicago River crisscrossed by the many storied bridges of this town. And below these, I would place the stars. I do not think to compete with the sites existing beauty but rather provide a focal point for contemplation and meditation that speaks to a universe beyond.
Contemplating this project I felt the river to be a fitting medium for this work. A river functions in many ways both practical as well as spiritual. The water we draw from them give life to us as they nourish the lands they cross. They are also natural barriers impeding our travel. We build bridges so as to cross them and in doing so join two places that were once separate. It is my intention that this work would also function as a bridge, allowing people to journey into the realm that is often forgotten in our modern, bustling age. I propose a bridge not of steel and brick, but one of light and space, not for the foot but for the soul.