19 Jul 2008

Take one garden light bought at M&S for £3.50 and dissect it:

Dissected Ambient Light

Connect a BlinkM up to an arduino and set it running:

BlinkM

Combine the two and you have a home-brew ambient orb:

Next step, do something interesting with it.

I’ve been on the lookout for suitable materials to make an ambient orb for a while – particularly something to diffuse the light. My original plan, which I may still do, was to take an ordinary lightbulb and put an RGB led inside it. However, modern lightbulbs prove quite tricky to take apart without shattering something. When I spotted these lights in M&S last week I knew they were exactly what I wanted. So I bought three.

They were pleasingly easy to dissect – just some gentle persuasion with a craft knife. The led’s they come with, which you can see here, are going to be handy to reuse in the future.

I still need to work out how best to mount the BlinkM beneath it. Given their I2C interface, it is going to be very easy to chain lots of them together, working as a group.

Ambient orbs are fascinating interfaces – they provide an abstraction that can convert an data source into a simplified, yet powerful, source of information.

Converting data into information is something I have been meaning to write about for a while. But given it’s my wife’s birthday and we’re heading out for the evening in 5 minutes, that post will have to wait for another day.

  1. DarrenJuly 19, 2008

    That’s really cool. You should come over to A block some time and see what my extreme blue kids are doing representing group status ambiently.

  2. KimK • August 7, 2008

    Scott Reston has implemented something similar, but with 2 BlinkMs.

    …program 1 (PHP) lives on a Web server and grabs data from Yahoo!, program 2 (Processing) runs on my PC and grabs output from program 1, then reports it to program 3 (Arduino) that displays the color.

    It would seem that this field is ready to take off, with feeds to and from AMEE, pachube, and the like.

  3. Matteo CaprariAugust 11, 2008

    Hi!

    I’m releasing the first version of an open source firmware for blinkm.

    Might you be interested, check it out at http://code.google.com/p/codalyze/wiki/CyzRgb

    Matteo

  4. vladJune 2, 2009

    Hi,

    awesome project, would love to see more in the energy visualization coming. Did you experiment/try the other blinkm led, the giant powerful one? I guess something that combines a lamp and vizualiation would be really sweet (u know something powerful enough to allow to read a book before going to sleep, but also visualize things subtly), rather than having a orb just for visualizing things.

    Cool stuff anyway :)

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