Léon (Interactive Light) by Lewis Power
2016 - 2017, Golden A' Lighting Products and Lighting Projects Design Award Winner
Léon was inspired by an observation of light cast through smoke, how it adopts a sense of tangibility and how it can be manipulated when our hand passes through it. The notion of tangible light developed further when researching Léon Theramin a Russian and Soviet inventor who invented the Theramin. This was a revolutionary musical instrument in 1919 that saw headlines of “magical music being created out of air”. This partnered with my observation stood as the foundation of the interaction.
Léon means to engage the user in a lighting experience, leaving behind traditional archetypes of home lighting and with this the physical switch. Employing two TOF sensors controlling hue and brightness, the user lifts and lowers their hands over these sensors to determine the lighting effect. As light is intangible, it is apt that the switch should be too. Through a more poetic interaction with light, I believe the user will find a renewed sensitivity to the lighting atmospheres they create.
Design Challenges
The build of the electronics and coding the interaction. This was something I had very little to no experience on personally, I had assistance from an interaction designer maker who was of great help. However there were many obstacles concerning the size of the components as they had to be fitted seamlessly into the architecture of the frame. The NeoPixel LEDs with integrated drivers proved very temperamental and kept breaking. The interaction itself needed much development for it to work simultaneously and smoothly.
Production Technology
The interaction employs two Time of Flight sensors which are traditionally used to measure distance using a precise clock that measures the time it takes light to bounce back from a surface. The sensors are coded to reflect a relative distance with either a hue or brightness dependent on the sensor. The material choice of the frame is beech wood to reflect the expression of the form, this being natural and minimal. For the diffuser Smash was used a relatively new nonwoven material that forms under heat and retains shape when cooled, the material also has excellent light diffusing qualities.
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