Responsive Light Mirrors Human Movement To Create Engaging Spaces [Future of Light]

Responsive Light Mirrors Human Movement To Create Engaging Spaces [Future of Light]

Technologies are being used to translate people's gestures into graphic images of light to achieve different ends.

  • 29 september 2013

At a time where people are becoming increasingly inundated by a seemingly endless stream of media, marketing, messages and alerts, the most vied-for commodity is someone’s undivided attention. This question has technologists rethinking the ways that light can draw people in and keep them interested in retail environments, museums and other public settings. Beyond sheer novelty, innovators are discovering practical uses for these interactions as well, exploring how these technologies can be deployed in therapeutic settings to alleviate stress or promote deeper engagement with educational exhibits, suggesting a larger array of opportunities than what was previously possible.

In a trend we are calling Light Painting, PSFK Labs has noticed that technologies are tracking people’s ephemeral gestures and translating them into graphic images of light. These installations are lowering the barrier to engagement through intuitive interfaces which instantly respond to user movements, allowing anyone to playfully experiment and create a desired outcome. In our conversation with Winka Dubbeldam, Principal at ArchiTectonics, she told us, “The idea of light as art on an urban scale is amazing. What’s really amazing about it is that people love to play with it. It creates within a very strict and severe urban environment.”


An example of this trend come from Crayola, who has upped the ante on art supplies with the development of a battery-operated stylus for the iPad that allows users to draw with light just by moving their hands in the air. Resembling a standard Crayola marker, the Light Marker beams light to the front-facing camera on the iPad to detect a user’s gestures, which are translated into images that appear on the tablet’s screen. The accompanying Light Marker app features an assortment of coloring pages, puzzles, paint splatter brushes and drawing tools to deepen the experience for users and allow them to share their creations with friends.


Artists have long been exploring the ways that multiple forms of expression can be combined to create hybrids works that draw the view in. To that end, we find Future Self, a performative light installation that maps and replicates human movement. Created by interactive design group rAndom International and located at the MADE exhibition space in Berlin, the project was presented as part of a dance performance coordinated by choreographer Wayne McGregor and composer Max Richter. Two dancers moved around the perimeter of the installation while 3D cameras recorded the shapes made by their bodies and replayed them on a brass grid of over 10,000 LED lights. The image created by the lights always resembles a single figure, no matter how many people approach it at once. The installation studies human movement and the notion of our present and future selves, using the interaction between dance, light and sound.

The Light Marker and Future Self point to the playful ways that gesture-tracking technologies can be synced with light to create engaging experiences across a diverse range of environments. We may see more exhibits merging playful engagement with education by employing light installations that track participants and offer coaching for movement-based activities like dancing.

Technologies like Light Marker and Future Self also fall into a larger theme we are calling Illuminated Expression, which explores how scalable lighting technologies are making it possible for individuals, brands and entire cities to visually express their identity and imagination and communicate their vision to the wider community.

The Future of Light series explores light’s potential to improve lives, build communities, and connect people in new and meaningful ways. Brought to you in partnership with Philips Lighting, a full report is available as an iOS and Android app or as a downloadable PDF.


How Indiegogo Is Becoming An Adult Product Destination

Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

Automotive september 23, 2016

Slick GPS Navigator Gives Directions To Moped Riders

This small, round device attaches to a sideview mirror to display maps for safer traveling


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Home september 23, 2016

A Clock That Beautifully Manages Your Information Overload

The wall-mounted timekeeper is made to help people maintain focus and stay up to date with their appointments

Arts & Culture september 23, 2016

Performance Piece Blends Dancers Into Folds Of Light

The work provides commentary on the increasing connection between programmed and analog dimensions

Related Expert

Steve Dennis

Marketing Consultant

Design & Architecture september 23, 2016

Design Firm Adapts Childhood Homes For Unemployed Young Adults

The studio has unveiled three prototypes of transformed living spaces for people forced to move back in with their families

Health september 23, 2016

These Chocolate Squares Claim To Reverse The Aging Process

A group of researchers from Cambridge University have developed a candy bar that promises to give you a youthful glow

Cities september 23, 2016

Food-Producing Architecture Competition Seeks To Better Feed Cities

A design challenge in Copenhagen highlights the need and beauty of urban farming


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 21, 2016

Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned Teaching 7th Grade Math

Bree Groff, Managing Director at NOBL NYC, shares her secrets for knowing your employees and enabling a team

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Health september 23, 2016

Wearable Monitors Sun Exposure To Prevent Sunburn

The clip monitors UV rays to make sure you're not receiving too much sunlight

Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

Culture september 23, 2016

This Exhibition’s Crowning Jewel Is An 18k Gold-Plated Toilet

The piece, titled 'America,' is meant to raise questions about the country's wealth inequality

Culture september 23, 2016

Match Up With Dates On Tinder Based On Your Music Preferences

A new partnership with Spotify lets people pair up based on shared tastes in artists

Entertainment september 23, 2016

Capture, Cut Up, And Configure Your World In 360 Degrees

To meet a booming 360 and VR video-capturing industry, a multimedia software company bolstered its media editing suite for 360-video creation


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Advertising september 23, 2016

These Trucks Drove Around In Circles For 24 Hours To Keep Time

The giant ticking clock was created by 14 Scania vehicles in a deserted airfield

Advertising september 23, 2016

Buy Movie Tickets Directly From Your Facebook Profile

The new feature is part of a campaign from Fandango to further imbed social media into the ticket vendor's digital presence

Asia september 23, 2016

Co-Working Space Brings The Calming Atmosphere Of Nature Indoors

An architectural firm in China has designed a new type of shared office that prioritizes the natural environment

No search results found.