top of page
Featured Posts

The LightByte Interactive Facade Heralds a World Where Buildings Interact and Change With the Enviro

LightByte Installation.jpg

A LightByte facade (on left) projects sunlight which can be formed into text and images

LightByte is described by creator Sheng Ling as an "interactive sun pixel facade which modifies the sun's rays at your whim into intricate shapes. It turns sunlight into an expressive medium to carry information, communicate ideas and to share your own shadows." It was developed with support from MIT Media Lab community, Cisco Systems, Inc., and Barbizon.

How does it work? The creator explains: "Hundreds of individually controlled servo flaps which act like "sun pixels" allow LightByte to let in or block sunlight to varying degrees. Hidden from the viewers, it involves computing algorithms and kinetic mechanisms to animate light through these sun pixels. Wood is deliberately chosen to form the light turning facade. Wood, from its texture to the sound it produces, recalls patterns on the forest floor as interplay of shadow and light."

Sheng Ying says of the technology: "Encompassing the digital and the natural, LightByte attempts to encourage a dialog between the digital and natural in the urban jungle."

What can LightByte actually do? One thing it does well is manipulate sunlight through gestures. As sunlight lands in a space, it can be reshaped through our bodies and gestures. LightByte can also receive images and text and then project them from the LightByte facade. The technology can also modify the sun’s rays into intricate shapes through sketching.


A LightByte facade (on left) projects sun through a wood screen that depicts a text message of a heart sent to the woman in the picture. Yes, buildings everywhere will be able to use sun to send and receive texts and images to and from you!

You may be thinking, LightByte is really cool! But, how is it green or sustainable? Well, you have to look at LightByte within the context of biomimicry, the science and art of emulating Nature's best biological ideas to solve human problems. Biotecture, also called biomimicry architecture, is building design which fuses 21st century technology with the best of nature to build living, breathing structures that act more like natural organisms than structures separating us from the environment.

Inhabitat summed biocentric architecture up nicely in a post about The Habitat 2020 building which is envisioned for China:"This nature-inspired approach to city living looks at the urban landscape as a dynamic and ever-evolving ecosystem. Within this cityscape, buildings open, close, breathe and adapt according to their environment."

The Habitat 2020 building has been designed with a living skin, rather than a system of inert materials used only for construction and protection. The surface would automatically position itself according to the sunlight and let in light. The air and wind would be channeled into the building and filtered to provide clean air and natural air-conditioning. The active skin would be capable of rain water harvesting.

Yes, building design in the future is sure to get trippier and trippier. Interactive technology such as LightByte will be standard features for homes and buildings.

Check out Sheng-Ying's video (below) about LightByte to see the future unfolding. The technology might look a bit hokey at the moment but think about what cell phones used to look like not that long ago.

Recent Posts
bottom of page