On Light & Lyt

As has been pretty well documented, we recently had the opportunity to work with Intel’s new Galileo development board to create a neat little prototype lighting product/experience for the Maker Faire Rome. The technology story is a compelling one, as it highlights the ways that one of the biggest global players has recognized the significance of Open Source and DIY culture, and the hopeful future that movement represents. Democracy with horsepower is a good thing.

As a person whose exuberant futurism is often tempered by a technology skepticism that borders on luddite, I’m very happy to see that there is real investment flowing into open-ended tools that empower lay-technologists (now we just need to educate young people to be able to take advantage of these tools–which is another blog post). But what really got me excited about Lyt was the product experience itself. Lyt makes any room it’s in totally hypnotizing. It’s funny that tens of thousands of years after the invention of fire, we humans are still utterly captivated by dynamic light.

Light is arguably the principal medium of Architecture, so naturally modulating its qualities in spaces we create is something I think about a lot. For purposes of working, inhabiting, reading–in short, most activities–daylight is technically and experientially superior. But there is also a documented, and intuitive, significance to firelight. It’s around the fire that we tell stories. Firelight is dynamic, suggests motion, teases the imagination, and invites reflection.

I believe that among the many future opportunities that exist in terrestrial lighting (I hate the term “artificial lighting” with it’s negative connotations–photons are photons, how we choose to use them determines the quality of experience that results) is the opportunity to create spaces whose lighting and ambient environment can respond to users’ commands or behaviors, providing lighting conditions that affect occupants similarly to firelight. Nothing will replace the fire (or the sun for that matter) in terms of sheer spectral quality of light, but we can do a lot better than we currently do in the responsive lighting of spaces. Lyt demonstrates this, albeit in a very humble way.

The future might just be bright.

— Daniel Meyers, AIA, Creative Director, Environments

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