Power Index Window Display turns buildings into LED matrices

What started off as a fun project using light bulbs picked up some sponsorship and is going on tour. This project now uses LED modules controlled on the 2.4 GHz band to turn buildings into full color displays. It’s the product of students at Wrocław University of Technology in Poland. The group is something of an extra-curricular club that has been doing this sort of thing for years. But now they’ve picked up some key sponsorships which not only allowed for upgraded hardware, but sent the group on a tour of Universities around Europe. Who would’ve thought you could go on tour with something like this?

Much like the MIT project we looked at in April, this lights up the dark rooms of a grid-like building. It does go well beyond playing Tetris though. The installation sets animations to music, with a custom animation editor so that you can submit your own wares for the next show. Don’t miss the lengthy performance after the break.

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MIT Students take Tetris to a grand scale

Careful, this hack might foster doubts about the level of fun you’re having at you own Computer Science department. Last weekend a group of students at MIT pulled off a hack of great scale by turning a building into a Tetris game board.

The structure in question is the Green Building on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Campus. It houses the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Departments, but was chose based on the size and regularity of the grid formed by the windows on one side. The group hasn’t provided much in the way of details yet, but the video after the break shows the game play and start-up screen. The middle portion of the building is used as a scrolling marquee to display the word “Tetris” before the game pieces start falling. We’re only guessing (and we hope you will add your conjecture in the comments section) but we’d bet they assembled a set of wireless RGB LED lamps and set one on the sill of each window. There does seem to be a number of ‘dead’ pixels, but it doesn’t diminish the fun of the overall effect.

If you don’t have your own building to play on, you should go small-scale and implement Tetris on a character display.

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Tetris on a building

Around a year ago, a bunch of blinkenlights were installed in the HCI-Building of ETH Zürich. These LED spots weren’t interactive and only showed hardcoded patterns. Of course a bunch of LEDs demand interactivity, so for the first-semester party this year a giant game of Tetris was built on the side of a building.

There’s no official build log, but from what we’ve learned, the LEDs are connected to a DMX controller that is in turn plugged into a computer and the University’s ethernet. For the command and control of the Tetris game, a USB joystick was connected to an old Dell that was pulled out of the junk pile.

The software for the project, LED side of the project was written in Visual C++ reusing old Tetris routines and example code from the DMX controller. For the controller portion, everything was written in C. The controller simply dumps chars into a TCP port on the second computer. While the Tetris board was only 3 pixels wide, there was a fairly massive queue of people wanting to play.

BAMF2011: Bloxes, a building kit with a nifty pedigree

Not every cool hack needs to involve microcontrollers, LEDs or other bling. We were initially drawn to the Bloxes display simply because we love a good multipurpose construction set, whether it be Lego, 80/20 aluminum, or in this case, a system of interlocking cubes formed from six identical pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut and scored in such a manner as to form a surprisingly sturdy little building block. They can become simple furniture, groovy Logan’s Run-style room decor, or the all-important kids’ forts…then later dismantled and made into something else.

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Crash Space Takes on the Machine

It’s that time again, time to take on the machine with the Hackerspace, Crash Space (and part two)! The team of Californians set out and successfully turned the front of their building into a musical instrument, similar to [David Byrne's] Playing the Building. When a pedestrian walks by they set off distance sensors, which in turn actuate mallets that strike particular objects to produce a tone. We were pleasantly surprised at how interactive the installation was, even if it didn’t sound that great. But will it be enough to beat out the previous two teams? And how will it do up against Artisans Asylum’s not what you’re thinking Breakfast Machine next time?

[thanks Deven]

Playing the Building with David Byrne


Do you remember the solenoid concert that used a sequencer to control several solenoids striking different surfaces? Musician David Byrne has taken the concept and executed it on a much larger scale with his “Playing the Building” installation in an old municipal ferry terminal in New York. Devices that bang the girders, rattle the rafters, and blow through the pipes of the building are attached to the only object inside, a weathered pipeorgan. Every key is wired to different device in the building, each producing a unique sound. Attendees are invited to fiddle with keys of the organ to produce sounds from the building’s various materials, thus playing the building like an instrument. Here’s a video from the installation.

[via Today and Tomorrow]

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