LIGHTWave: the latest member of interactive light devices

It is said that “a picture paints a thousand words” so a video should tell a better story?

Here’s a video of LIGHTWave

LIGHTWave is the latest member of the range of multi-sensory interactive products.

LIGHTWave is an interactive light display with animated light patterns that respond to hand movements and gestures.  Motion and distance is detected by a circle of six sensors that control different areas of the display, its light intensity and speed of the light animations.

LIGHTWave: showing light display surrounded by the six sets of ultrasonic seosors

LIGHTWave boasts six HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor that detect movement and distance surrounding nearly 100 individually addressable LEDs arranged in five concentric rings. Animated light patterns respond to input from the sensors to modulate colour, light intensity and animation speed.

LIGHTWave is housed in a two-part enclosure that I CNC’ed from 12 mm HDPE. The top part is pocketed to hold the six ultrasonic sensor modules and the rings of LEDs.  The sensors are wired so that all six ultrasonic transmitter “ping” at the same time, while the software collects data from each received every 30ms. This input is converted to distance and used to modulate the light intensity, hue and animation speed.

LIGHTWave: underside of the top part of the housing showing the ultrasonic modules and the concentric rings of LEDs

LIGHTWave: closeup of the ultrasonic sensors

The lower part of the enclosure (not shown) pockets the power connector, a miniature 5v 2A buck converter and the Arduino Nano.

From the data sheet, the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor “uses sonar to determine the distance to an object like bats or dolphins do. It offers excellent non-contact range detection with high accuracy and stable readings in an easy-to-use package. From 2 cm to 400 cm  It operation is not affected by sunlight or black material.”

The operation of the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor is quite straightforward. Upon receipt of a trigger pulse, it transmits 8 cycles of 40kHz ultrasonic bursts and waits for a reflected ultrasonic signal. When the receiver detects this reflected signal, it outputs an echo signal with a pulse width (150us – 25ms) proportional to the delay between the burst and its reception. Based on the time for sound to travel through air, this is then converted to the distance between the transmitter and the reflecting surface.


Lots of fun to play with…

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