Controlling the behavior of light with a physics simulator

Atmel | Bits & Pieces

This installation is like a rollercoaster of lights.

Created by Madrid creative studio Espadaysantacruz, Light Kinetics is an interactive installation where light behaves as matter under the laws of mechanics.


The project is comprised of 78 tungsten bulbs connected to a rack of 20 four-channel DMX dimmers, all of which are controlled by a physics simulator built with Unity3D. An Atmel basedArduino was employed to capture the impulses, while Processing was used to interface between Unity3D and the dimmers.


How it works is relatively simple. A piezoelectric sensor situated in the first bulb captures the force of a tap, generating a light particle that moves along the loop. The initial impulse is regulated by the strength of the tap, creating a very natural interaction. Adding more strength behind the touch causes the light to move faster and can overcome the force of gravity. Conversely, when one presses the bulb softly, light falls slowly along the loop.


“Light, as we usually…

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