Andrew Burke

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Lighting as language
Posted on: 2007-12-14

Recently highlighted on BoingBoing Gadgets: a shower head with embedded LED lights that changes colour depending on the temperature. What's even cooler is that the power for the LEDs comes entirely from the water pressure. Nice.

Now that lighting has become more dynamic with the new progress in LEDs, there are lots of interesting ways to convey information with light.

Perhaps to make up for the fact that it's no longer really the tallest building in the world, the CN tower has been fitted with an elaborate LED lighting system as well. They do different things with the lights for special occasions but I think there's a lot of other potential there for real-time feedback. Since the CN tower is visible throughout much of Toronto, it could function like the old clock towers used to in smaller towns.

  • It could show different colours depending on the score of the Leafs or Raptors games - more blue as the score gets bigger, with a ring for each point or something, flashing when someone scores.

  • It could have some kind of light theme for the weather, like the Canada Life Building but fancier, showing not just temperature, but wind, precipitation, air quality, etc.

  • Some kind of special signal for highway or GO train delays. I could tell if I should take another route besides the Gardiner simply by looking at the tower before I get in the car.

  • Instead of a cardboard thermometer on a billboard, the United Way fundraising progress could be tracked by a red bar slowly going up the elevator shaft.

  • Total energy usage in Toronto could be shown through a colour gradient on the tower itself. There is already a sign on the Gardiner showing the precise number of megawatts used - this would be more elegant.

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