Philips Hue for Games: Beyond the Screen

Video games are framed by the computer screen. The world of the game exists within that rectangle, and the ‘real’ world exists around it. What if we use connected lighting systems to extend the environment of the game beyond the screen?

For this project I have created a simple game of pong in which how well you are doing in the game is reflected by the world around you. Using a Philips Hue Bloom (or any “hue”, “sat”, and/or “bri” capable light), your progress in the game affects the brightness and colour of the room you are playing in.

Very simply, the longer you play, the more pleasantly cool and desaturated the light around you becomes. Whenever you ‘lose’ the light progresses some increment back towards a glaring, saturated red.

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A Tiny Project

This week’s Homemade Hardware assignment is to do something interesting with an ATtiny. I have decided to make a useless light toy thing.

Uploading code to an ATTiny is slightly more involved than to something like an Uno. Fortunately we can use an Uno as an uploading interface (as described on the class site). You can do this with a breadboard and jumpers, but it’s helpful and repeatable to use a programming jig. Here’s mine:

I scrounged the junk shelf for some inspiration and found a film container. It looks like a nice diffuse material and is small enough to offer a challenge to put something interesting inside. It fits just enough PCB for an ATTiny plus a Sparkfun accelerometer breakout.

With the component parts in place I got to work figuring out what this useless toy thing would do. With an accelerometer I can know which direction is down. The film can has a natural ‘rollability’ to it, so I figured the fun little playful characteristic of this thing could be that its lights always point one way when you’re rolling it.

Fun fact: a neopixel strip can bend in on itself to become… a neopixel circle!

Tom Igoe told me specifically that I’d fail Light and Interactivity if I brought in a rainbow LED project, so I’ve chosen to get all my rainbow LED kicks in this class.

Two accelerometer axes (x and y) with some throwbacks to highschool geometry (arctan2), and a little bit of filtering (SimpleKalman) provided the code necessary to calculate down. Here’s a graph of the sensor readings.

Yellow and Dark Blue indicate raw X/Y accelerometer data. Red shows arctan2 (i.e. angle from x axis) of that data, Light Blue shows filtered and scaled angle.

After getting the interaction right okayish, the rest was simply a matter of soldering it on to small enough a through-hole board to fit into the canister. I enjoy this part as it feels like a puzzle.

Next steps will be to add a switch so that I can turn it off. As it currently stands there is a USB charging port for the LiPo, but to turn it off you must unplug the battery. This is not ideal.

I’d also like to refine the look, perhaps add a more thoughtful colour scheme, and work on making the change of colour more definite. I do like the subtle shift in colour, but I worry that the slow change is not very noticeable. I would like to try a few other outputs, such as having each colour ‘tick’ over to the next slot if a certain threshold is met.

A Long Distance Lamp (Version 01)


What I am intending to do and why.

Long distance relationships are tough. There are many technologies that help to alleviate some of the difficulties of distance, such as video calling, instant messaging, even connected devices that simulate physical touching. Yet long distances remain hard.

The solutions above all require an ‘active’ participation, each person must be engaged in the video call, or on the message thread, or with the physical device.

With this project I posit there is a space for more passive presence, a subtle “I’m here, but not active”. My partner and I enjoy simply reading in bed next to each other, each minding there own business but aware of and comfortable with the other’s presence.

The ideal end goal of this project is a pair of connected reading lights, with each light giving subtle and noninterruptive cues that the other lamp is present. I also intend to offer the possibility of subtle interaction, similar to a light brush of the arm or momentary eye contact.

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Light Observation Week 5

The first thing I notice here is how bright the clouds appear. This is certainly an artefact of the camera as I do not recall the clouds being this bright – even with glowy New York underneath.

This clip records 1 frame every 60 seconds. The timelapse accentuates some sort of flickering during the night on the street – I’m venturing that it is the lights of the ground floor apartments but that is a guess.

There’s a beautiful short moment around second 8 where the brightness of the sky descends towards the horizon. a soft line in the sky between pink and blue becomes a hard shadow on the ground a moment later

The glittery window reflections make an interesting pattern on the building across at around the 30 second mark.

Three Battery/Cell Types

Last summer I tried my hand at building a drone. I learned a lot about drone battery use, and eventually settled on a 14.8V (4*3.7V), 4000mAh Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery with a 10C rating

In my last job we occasionally would use the lead acid batteries you can get at most hardware stores. The standard size we used was 12V, 7Ah, C5 capacity.

I also often use CR2023 coin cell batteries that provide 3V and around .2 mAh. I’m not sure of the C rating.

LDR Lamp Proposal


For the next few weeks I’ll be working on a light fixture for Light and Interactivity.

My light is inspired by the personal experience of being in a long term long distance relationship.

My plan is to create two reading lights to go above the headboards of two separate beds. They will function in two or three ways (the third is undecided – needs further thought)

  1. As a standalone reading light, perhaps with an auto-off feature after an hour or so (I sometimes fall asleep with the reading light on)
  2. As a subtle presence device for long distance partners. Currently my thought is that by touching one of the fixtures, the connected light will gently pulse; just enough to let the other person know you’re thinking of them, but not so much to interfere with their reading. Perhaps a reach goal here would be to have a ‘hold’ function, where if both lights are being touched the pulse intensifies.
  3. (This is the one I’m not sure about yet) Sometimes after I fall asleep with the light on my partner will turn it off. I wish I could say vice-versa but she’s too conscientious to fall asleep with a light on. So maybe there’s something in giving control of the other light to each fixture. But that could raise a few different questions; of agency, of who’s job it is to turn the lights off, not to mention the technical difficulties.


I started throwing together concept sketches for what this lamp could look like. As of now I think a feasible option is a strip of LEDs in a square aluminium bar with one long side open. The LEDs face the open side, which has a thin layer of diffusion on it.

The ends of the bar could be capped with 3D printed caps, that could perhaps double as the housing for the electricals.