Hands-on with the Urban Species Lightbox

In November 2021, we organised in collaboration with Brussels' fablab CityFab1 a workshop to get citizens acquainted with the Urban Species Lighbox. The Lightbox allows an expressive, fun and flexible way to create animated shapes and forms, including  graphs, maps, urban messages, characters and so forth. The lightbox, which is part of the Urban Species Toolkit for the creation of urban interactive installations, can be coupled with sensors and buttons, allowing applications such as data visualisation (e.g. air quality or traffic data), simple urban games and voting. The hands-on, crafted aspect of the device allows for co-creation and collective imagination

In the workshop, participants especially touched upon the Lightbox for its opportunities for playful expression. One participant created an animated portrait of another participant. Another participant created a shape resembling plant life. 

How to customise an Urban Species lightbox?

STEP 1: After ideation on what to build, a participant uses free drawing to explore shapes and forms. 
STEP 2: The free drawing is transformed into a grid drawing, which corresponds to the possibilities of the physical parts. 
STEP 3: Using a library of different physical "light separator" parts, a ground plate is filled with shapes according to the grid drawing.  
STEP 4: The design is inserted into the lightbox enclosure. 
STEP 5: The lightbox is animated using the Urban Species Firefly LED animation software. 
STEP 6: Present the result.