2012 OTF – Light Hacker

Light Hacker is an accessory that “hacks” or modifies the behavior of an existing streetlamp. By using a sound sensor and a color filter that responds to ambient noise, Light Hacker changes the color of the emitted light. The device also has a stand-alone internet connection allowing to send real-time sensor readings to an internet server (COSM), providing open data for the development of noise maps and computer software useful for planners, researchers and citizens. It can be reused, transported and installed where required.

Although the noise levels are recorded in many cities, their inhabitants don’t have an adequate understanding or interaction with the instruments normally used for measuring it, which often leads to a failure in perceiving the amount of noise being produced. Furthermore, the information collected is static, in long-term measurements that are averaged, making it impossible to establish which particular event raises the average.

The goal is to enable consciousness about particular phenomena that can´t be seen. Knowing about these enviromental events could prevent people from exceeding common limits, which could result in an improvement in urban coexistence. Light Hacker could be a solution to the noise problem in Barcelona, for example, where the City Hall spends annually on noise awareness campaigns with uncertain outcomes. If citizens and planners could realize the amount of noise that occurs in real time, they will have specific judgment parameters and arguments for making decisions.

To prove the concept, I chose the Plaza de Las Navas in Poble Sec in Barcelona, for being a particular place where there is a noise problem between neighbors and night revelers. Since the two parts of this issue coexist in different time lapses, the opportunity lies in using what’s common for both for solving the problem. Because they share the same scenario, this will be urban furniture, and given this happen during the night, the most appropriate are streetlamps.

In this square, the installed streetlamps are from the Rama model manufactured by Santa & Cole. For this reason, Light Hacker prototype has been specifically developed to be installed in this particular luminaire model.

The prototype was digitally manufactured using a CNC Milling Machine to cut and engrave an Alucobond composite 3mm sheet. Then it was spray painted and then folded in order to obtain the final form of the housing. Internally, it has two main parts. The first is the color filter assembly, made from two modified Ikea blinds, a measuring tape spring, a laser cut acrylic gear and a backlight canvas gradient printed color filter. The second part consists in an IP 65 hermetic box containing all the electronics (Arduino UNO board, stepper motor driver, stepper motor, sound sensor and 3GSM wireless modem)

Light Hacker is an accesory, but it is possible to extrapolate these concepts into the production of an industrial manufactured streetlamp containing all the electronics within it, for example in a Rama LED luminaire, using RGB LEDs that may emit light in different colors in response to the values of a sound sensor or other type of sensor, and then transmit them in real time to internet.

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