Koïr

 2016 - 2017
Koïr is a swarm of lamps, which dynamically translates motion in public spaces into light. Just like its natural counterparts, this swarm works without central controllers but uses the simplicity, intelligence and communication methods of each individual member.

Koïr was created during a semester project at the Weißensee School of Art and Design and has been exhibited at the Salone Satellite 2017 during the Milan Design Week. Learn more here.

#storyboarding #userjourney #blender #electronics #pcbmaking #3dprinting #cncmilling #lasercutting #metalworking #colorandmaterial #photography #adobephotoshop #adobeillustrator #adobeindesign
concept
The semester project revolved around exploring the reactive qualities and potential of light. I in particular wanted to investigate if – and how – light could welcome and follow people within a space. How could the presence of people be dynamically translated into light?
In order to maintain responsiveness to movement in an entire space, a reactive network is needed. Each member – in this case lamp – of this network needs to be able to both detect motion and also pass this information to surrounding lamps.
Similar to swarms of bacteria, which exchange information based on distance by using chemicals, this process creates a swarm intelligence, which is able to independently compute and display information.
electronics and form finding
One of the first prototypes I created investigated how the signal of a person’s presence – here represented by the push of a button – could be transmitted through the swarm.
An analog signal is ideal since its information is naturally modified by the distance it travels.
Next, I tested different motion sensors – here infrared sensors.
I later decided on using radar sensors since they sense in a given radius instead of on an axis.
In order to enable the lamps to communicate and display the signal of presence, they were equipped with light sensors as well. If a neighboring lamp senses the motion of a person, it will light up fully, which can be seen by surrounding lamps, further spreading the fading signal.
One of the many prototypes in a test setup.
Using the path tracing rendering engine Blender, I was able to find a lamp shape that is ideal for spreading the information. Here, it was important to give the lamps a shape that would let them shine their light far, without stimulating their own sensor.
After prototyping the analog electronics and the form, I built six lamps. The electronic components were mounted on a PCB that I designed and CNC milled.
The PCBs are mounted between two translucent, light diffusing screens with a reversible bayonet. This way, the light sensing and shining sides of the lamps can be switched.
result
One of the finished lamps while shining brightly.
Light spreading through the swarm.
Koïr creates reactive spaces that are able to dynamically interpret and display the motions of people.
Simon von Schmude