colors & lights

There’s this building across the Hudson River in Jersey City that has a slanted top. Sometimes the top of the building is lit up and other times it’s just dark. But times when you’re super lucky, there’s a light show on that slanted building top.

First it will glow all these intense colors, one at a time. Deep red, electric blue, hot pink, a bunch more. Then the colors will break apart into stripes. The stripes appear to be random. Some stripes are thin and some are wide. Different colors are put together in all these awesome combinations. When things really get going, the stripes move across the screen, fast and slow and blinking. I could watch this for hours (and, yes, I am aware that it requires very little to entertain me).

So I’ve been wondering. Does someone plan out the light show? Or do the lights and patterns just run on some random program? And what building is that? If anyone out there has the inside info on this, please share.

If the colors and patterns weren’t so random, I might suspect this to be part of an ambient device. Ambient information involves peripheral cues that let us know when something specific is happening. For example, there’s a device called an Ambient Orb. It looks like a big egg. It sits in your house and glows certain colors to let you know how much energy you have been consuming (or you can plug the Energy Joule into a socket, which is cheaper and tells you more energy info). The orb can also show you things like trends in the stock market, weather forecast variables, or traffic conditions. So if you want to reduce your energy consumption, you can set up the orb to let you know if you are conserving electricity (glows a happy green) or if you have to turn off a few extra lights and the TV already (glows an angry who-do-you-think-you-are red).

Ambient Orb

The idea with ambient information is that if we can see subtle hints to indicate our usage of something invisible like electricity, we will respond to those colors with action. It’s all about persuading us to make lifestyle changes without being intrusive and all up in your face about it. Like, you could always check the weather forecast to see if you should bring an umbrella when you leave, but so many people don’t bother with that. Solution? You could use the ambient umbrella. Fascinating! This umbrella responds to precipitation forecasts and its handle glows if you should take it with you. You can see these cool inventions here. Some of the devices are expensive, but I love the idea of ambient info. How cool would that job be? Thinking up rad inventions, using your creative brain all day. Sweet times.

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