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CHI 2013

CHI 2013 Workshop on Interactive City Lighting

Interactive City Lighting
Workshop at the ACM CHI 2013 conference
April 27, 2013: Paris, France


LED based lighting systems have enabled radically new possibilities in the field of artificial lighting. This is due to in part to the LED being digitally controllable which means this efficient light source can also be integrated with sensors and smart environments. This has opened up a new world of lighting and lighting interaction opportunities that has been applied in new concepts in many of the lighting domains from homes to hospitality to hospitals. The outdoor lighting domain however has focused mostly on the LED’s efficiency and low cost of ownership to save energy and money for local governments.  The use of the LED as a potential means for providing interactive city lighting for social good or entertainment is as yet a fairly unexplored area. This is therefore the focus of this workshop and to bring together a community of researchers, designers and technologists to explore the potential of interactive city lighting and how it could support or enhance the lives of those living in a city. Above all during the workshop we would like to: identify key opportunities for new forms of interactive lighting systems in urban context, explore interaction paradigms that can be (re-) used for interactive urban lighting, and examine adequate ways of prototyping and evaluating interactive lighting systems.

The main goals of the workshop are

Identify key opportunities for new forms of interactive lighting systems in urban contexts.
Explore interaction paradigms that can be (re-) used for interactive urban lighting.
Examine adequate ways of prototyping and evaluating interactive lighting systems.

Topics of Interest

 Interaction design for urban lighting systems including street, city parks, playgrounds and squares illumination, city beautification with interactive façades illumination and so on
Adaptation of existing UI paradigms to lighting systems
User studies of interactions that are or can be applied to interactive lighting systems
Intelligent street lighting
Prototyping for urban lighting systems
Evaluation methodologies for urban lighting systems

Workshop structure

The first part of the workshop (the morning) will be dedicated to the introduction of emerging forms of urban lighting interaction (keynote by Emile Aarts) and the presentations of the individual attendees.  Time will also be given to prepare a list of topics for the afternoon session. In the afternoon session we will split into groups, with each taking one particular aspect of urban lighting (presented or identified during the morning session). We will then attempt to work out a concept of interactive lighting system and finally create a simple working prototype.

Workshop Organizers

Dzmitry Aliakseyeu, Philips Research (The Netherlands)
Bernt Meerbeek, Philips Research (The Netherlands)
Jon Mason, Philips Research (The Netherlands)
Alexander Wiethoff, University of Munich, (Germany)
Elke den Ouden, Industrial Design department of the Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands)
Harm van Essen, Industrial Design department of the Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands)
Andrés Lucero, Nokia Research Center (Finland)

Accepted papers

Angie Chandler, Carl Lewis, and Joe Finney. Scalable, Freeform Urban Lighting Displays.  Download PDF
Arlene Ducao, Phil Seaton, Andrew Payne, and Melissa Chow. Collective Power: Social Pressure for Energy Conservation. Download PDF
Elke den Ouden, Harm van Essen, and RianneValkenburg. Socializing Light: Towards Interactive City Lighting on 4 levels. Download PDF
Esben Skouboe Poulsen, Hans Jørgen Andersen, and Ole B. Jensen. Responsive City Lighting: Perspectives From Architecture & the Public Lighting Industry. Download PDF
Heiko Müller, Benjamin Poppinga, Martin Pielot, WilkoHeuten, and Susanne Boll. Keeping Groups Together with a Public/Private Light Display. Download PDF
Henrika Pihlajaniemi, Toni Österlund, TuulikkiTanska, AulikkiHerneoja, and AnniinaValjus. 3 X Interactive Urban Lighting: AUL demo cases. Download PDF
Jeroen Peeters. The Aesthetic Experience In Interactive Lighting Design. Download PDF
Martin Brynskov, Peter Dalsgaard, and Kim Halskov. Understanding Media Architecture (Better): One Space, Three Cases. Download PDF
Michel Witter, Bernt Meerbeek, Jon Mason, and Dzmitry Aliakseyeu. Interactive city lighting: exploration through design. Download PDF
Susanne Seitinger and John Warwick. Timing Is Everything: From Dynamic Lighting to Meaningful Experience. Download PDF
Sven Gehring and Alexander Wiethoff. Digital Light Installations – Connecting people through interactive buildings. Download PDF
Tom Bartindale. ThorDMX: A Prototyping Toolkit for Interactive Lighting Control Download PDF

Concepts developed during the workshop prototyping session

Lighting Chimes



to design an interactive art installation for a festival in Munich located at a disused steel plant.


Build a journey through the space which the people pass through and take part in How to share the mood and connect others How to connect others with those on the other side of the site?

Ripples of light that move around the whole site Knock on effects that can build on each other Use social media BIG data from the mobile phones and see where people have come from or how far travelled etc How to limit the number of people interacting with the installation Limit to how many people?

Use LED spots with kinect so can see shapes and movement of people Show examples of the man power needed in the site years ago, people interact using the old ways of working, cutting, lifting, pouring, heaving, hammering etc Must not interfere with the other acts taking place on the site Use giant projections to illuminate the site Use a thin beam of light that can follow people’s finger pointing so they can explore the site but with a very small point of light Should the light be on those interacting with it or not?

Use light to show the processes of the site in the past, e.g. The flow of the molten iron

Selected idea

To try and build in a level of meaning behind the installation and interaction the idea of people acting out the physical motions of the former workers on the site to control the light could help highlight the physicality of the work that use to take place and the dynamic lighting feedback / reward can reflect the effort that was needed.  The light colour, brightness can represent the output or fire or energy.

Jardin Atlantique



Interactive illumination for urban parks and gardens


Context: urban park in Paris (JardinAtlantique), park surrounded by office buildings
Look at opportunities for using  interactive light for entertainment and safety


Integrate lighting in the park with illumination of the building façades
Create a dialog between visitors that are somewhere in the park
Mirror the building façade into the park or other way around
Replay office activities in the park
Use park lighting to address safety e.g. feeling unsafe in a large empty space, finding your way, knowing where there other people, etc.
Enable people in the park to use façades as a display (e.g. windows as pixels, after office hours)
Make park more interesting to explore at evening times
Make light behave as different animals reacting to people, reflect the locations on the façade

Concept / Prototype

Interactive lighting system that that reacts on the presence of people including sound and movement (direction and speed). The behavior of light would resemble different animal behaviors (curious, scared, aggressive), the “animals” can be distinguished using colors. Thus as people move through the park the light would move to, in a way reflecting the activity and “mood” of the park.  The movement of the “light animals” would also be reflected on the building façades, so by looking at the façade, as soon as visitors would learn and understand the behaviors of light, they would be able to quickly see how many people in the park, where approximately they are and for example make assessments about safety.

Rue de l’Esperance



Community street lighting


Context: old narrow street in Paris (Rue de l’Esperance)
Look at opportunities for using light in other ways, focusing on aspects of time


Leaving traces
Contributing to a story
‘Playback’ at night the story of the day
Light as collective memory in the street (showing happenings in past minutes, days, seasons, etc.
Different layers of light indicating different type of information
People can plug-in own lighting modules to ‘street network’. Voluntary opt-in/opt-out
Ensure minimum light for safety.
Components for

Concept / Prototype

Interactive lighting system that is shared by a community (on street level). Inhabitants can connect their own lighting object to the community street light infrastructure. Different stakeholders in the street use the light for different purposes. For example, the retailer uses interactive and dynamic façade lighting to attract customers, while the neighbor puts a light flower pot on the pavement. 3600 projection poles are used to create dynamic pattern that tell the  (his)story of the street.

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