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Lost Values

Urban Pixels

Susanne Seitinger, Danny Perry (MIT Media Lab); Richard Wilson (Distance Lab)

Urban Pixels are a new system of programmable lighting units created at MIT that can be used to create new effects that blur the boundary between urban lighting and display. In June 2008, Distance Lab collaborated with the MIT Media Lab to present the first ever public exhibition of Urban Pixels on a facade at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, Scotland. Theatre-goers and passers-by were able to interact with the display by sending texts with their mobile phones or by waving a flashlight on the facade.

"Urban Pixels" are wireless, solar-powered lighting units for cities that blur the boundary between digital display technology and traditional urban lighting. By combining a renewable energy source with RF communication it is possible to achieve a self-sustaining, distributed display network that can be attached to any building surface and reconfigured with ease. Depending on their configuration and placement, Urban Pixels can be used to convey place-specific information, respond to environmental conditions or support creative expression in urban public spaces.

Urban Pixels could be installed on any vertical or horizontal surface, on buildings or urban furniture or other infrastructure. The key components of a Pixel are: RF radio, microprocessor, LEDs, solar cells, battery pack. Three generations of prototypes have been developed to date. The current design of the Pixels integrates communication, lighting and solar charging. A floating version is also being developed, to be tested in Scotland.

Links

  • High resolution project images

  • Visit Susanne's Urban Pixels web page at MIT.

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