Skyscraper Tetris Lets the City Know how Good or Bad You Are

If you’ve clocked one-too-many hours at Tetris, it might be time to show the world your skills on this skyscraper-sized display on the Shell Centre in London. [Benjamin], [Tom], and their “army of volunteers” took to the Shell building and assembled their super-screen from a collection of 182 networked wireless lightbulbs, some tracing paper, and mylar to create a playable interface from the Jubilee Gardens below.

[Benjamin] doesn’t deliver many of the technical details on his post, but he does give us an overview. He achieves full wireless coverage of all floors by spacing out 14 TP-Link WR702n routers, each running the same version of OpenWRT. This interface wasn’t [Benjamin’s] first choice, as he would’ve preferred to tap into the building’s existing wireless network; unfortunately, he was left without support from the building’s network team. Equipped with a large donation of wireless bulbs controlled by a central bridge, [Benjamin’s] Python-adaptation of Tetris can refresh the building about about 1-to-2 frames per second. Given his description of the bulb interface, we suspect he’s using the all-too-familiar Philips Hue smart lightbulbs to illuminate the building.

In case you haven’t heard of Faraday’s Christmas Lectures, they’re the UK’s nationally broadcasted “science special” featured at the end of the year and founded in 1825 by [Michael Faraday] himself. The goal of these Lectures is to introduce young people to some aspect from the sciences. We’ve seen giant Tetrises before, but not in a way that inspires such a young audience. We’re thrilled to see that hacking both in software (Python, LAN networks) and hardware (ZigBee, OpenWRT) made the cut for this year’s special. After all, why should MIT keep all the fun to themselves?

If the building-scale is just too big for your taste, why not have a go on your oscilloscope?

16 thoughts on “Skyscraper Tetris Lets the City Know how Good or Bad You Are

  1. Personally, I didn’t think too much of this years lectures. it seemed to be largely showing off cool tech, with very little actual information. There was so much that could have been explained much better. As was, it was rather too much of a “black box” approach to things for my liking.

    1. I’m with you on that one. I kept trying it but it was so high level and wasn’t in the spirit of the founder. I started watching them in the mid 1960s when they were proper lectures with demonstrations. It is really sad that such a magnificent tradition should give in to today’s instant gratification society.

  2. Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, not Faraday’s Christmas Lectures

    If using Hue bulbs, the routers shouldn’t be necessary as they use mesh networking (zigbee i believe) from the hue hub/bridge, somewhat confused as to why routers are required unless there are multiple hubs/bridges to reduce latency and the display is split into sections.

    1. It’s the latency thing.

      One Hue Bridge can output up to around 10 commands per second. Furthermore, each bulb passing on the network data will add some latency. Totally acceptable for its intended purpose – home lighting with probably less than 10 bulbs -, not something you want when playing tetris on a 13×14 grid.

  3. I was disappointed by the lectures, I had high hopes.
    The lectures seemed to be more about showing off high tech university projects such as a Mars rover (how is a Mars rover related to hacking?). They could have been showing projects that kids could actually do.

  4. Nice Job – wonder if the research was based off blinken lights…. I don’t think their installations had color but I can’t recall – they did more then one… Eitherway, always neat and takes alot of effort!

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