Colin Sullivan

Design Challenge: LED Wall

My response to a design challenge, a prototype of an interactive LED wall experience.

The prompt:

Conceptualize and prototype an immersive and interactive experience...

An LED wall allowing participants to paint gestures on a touchscreen.

Imagine entering the lobby of a modern office building. One of the large walls looks textured, like it could be a screen. There is a small podium close to the wall in the center, when you approach the screen on the podium calls to you touch it, when you do the wall in front of you lights up immensely bright as you paint a pattern over the screen.

Prompt

People love to be surprised. Conceptualize and prototype an immersive and interactive experience for an office that would transmit its visitors a sense of innovation and fun.

Idea

An LED wall allowing participants to paint gestures on a touchscreen.

Imagine entering the lobby of a modern office building. One of the large walls looks textured, like it could be a screen. There is a small podium close to the wall in the center, when you approach the screen on the podium calls to you touch it, when you do the wall in front of you lights up immensely bright as you paint a pattern over the screen.

wall with podium

wall with podium

Interaction Elements

  • Draw on a touchscreen to "paint" on LED grid
  • Painting gesture leaves a trail of lights
  • Paintings are captured as animations and played in a 10 second loop
  • Paintings are ephemeral, they fade away

Prototype

After a few hours of brainstorming on a recent road trip, I purchased parts and upon arriving home, spent about 15 hours over 3 days building this prototype.

Prototype Demo

Prototype Elements

  • BeagleBone
  • Fadecandy
  • 2 8x8 NeoPixel LED grids
  • 1 PIR motion sensor
  • Acrylic for structure & diffusion
  • iPad w/ full screen web app
prototype components exposed

prototype components exposed

Process

In general, this process aims for the minimum path towards demonstrable experience. Often this means keeping a prototype focused on demonstrating only parts of the experience that are difficult to explain with words or sketches. For this project in particular, the process looked something like this:

Brainstorming on office life and engaging experiences that may fit within it.

Initially I read the prompt as an experience for the workers of the office, then later re-interpreted it more generally as something that could be valuable for guests as well. For office workers, I thought of Robert Rodriguez's idea of asking the actors to paint while on set, giving them an outlet that keeps them in a creative space. This is where the painting idea came from.

Sketching some interaction ideas. Deciding on prototype form.

Planning project, including buying parts and thinking through architecture, breaking prototype down into multiple phases, keeping MVP in mind. This hardware architecture is similar to one that I've used before so most planning was around software functionality and the order to implement it:

  • lighting up single LED when touched on screen
  • LED trail animation
  • looping animations
  • animation loops fade away
  • incorporating distance sensor for "call to action" interaction
interaction sketching & software planning

interaction sketching & software planning

Implementing the codebase. You can see details on the led-drawing-prototype github page