If You Light It, They Will Come

by | Apr 26, 2022


It is interesting to note that it is only until recently that humanity has had access to inexpensive, abundant light sources to dispel the darkness. For millennia, human activity was limited to the daytime. Now, we are a 24/7 species. 

We all know the story of Edison, but have you heard of Charles Brush? After Edison pioneered the first light bulb, Brush invented the arc light to illuminate streets. In 1879, Brush powered up 12 arc lights at the Public Square in Cleveland, OH. The first of its kind. This spectacle drew thousands of onlookers, drawing people out of their homes to gather at nighttime. Electric street lighting was a revolution, paving the way for an explosion of night-based activities helping to boost economic activity in public spaces.

Even though these traditional displays have been using lighting creatively for many years, they are often stuck in an old paradigm of using lighting as a passive experience. They fail to maximize the engagement of their audiences, especially the younger demographic. 

A Revolution In Lighting

There is a new lighting revolution brewing, a revolution that again inspires and attracts people to gather the way the first street lamp did 143 years ago in 1879; however, this time turning people from passive observers into active participants.

Interactive ‘Singing Tree’ – Limbic Media

The future of street lighting is interactive, with multi-sensory, personalized experiences designed specifically for the built environment that leverage modern technologies. These new modern experiences are made possible with the advent of digitally controllable, multi-colour LED technology, driven by advances in networking, sensor technology, computer vision, signal processing and AI.

These types of public experiences are popping up in forward-thinking cities and neighbourhoods worldwide. For example, Team Lab’s ‘Interactive 4D Vision’ technology uses a combination of LED pixels and projection to display an interactive visualization modulated by inputs such as smartphones, depth cameras, or music.

Another example is Limbic Media’s ‘Interactive Art Wall’. The ‘Interactive Art Wall’ is an experience that turns dead wall space such as property development hoardings into an opportunity to give back to the local community. The interactive, colourful mural on the wall comes to life when a person donates money to the charity of choice. This specific installation example gave contributions to an art-based non-profit for underprivileged children in the Vancouver area. 

Donation-driven ‘Art Wall’ – Limbic Media

This example of Limbic Media’s popular interactive ‘Singing Tree’ installation transformed an underutilised urban park space in Fort Worth, TX, into an exciting new venue for various forms of entertainment. The installation facilitated a total revitalization of this public space bringing more joy and economic activity to the area.

An Opportunity For Innovation

Using creative lighting and technology to enhance the urban experience is a relatively new concept but an important and effective one. Harnessing the power of innovative lighting technology is especially true for property developers and merchants who need to drive traffic to brick and mortar locations in order to engage the public in the darker winter months, and also civic stakeholders who want to create a sense of community and safety in their town centers. This new wave of technological innovation is evolving the experience of lighting from mainly task-driven to a future of scintillating, interactive nightscapes that make public space accessible, attractive, and safe 24/7.  

We are seeing a paradigm shift where instead of being passive content consumers, the public is looking to become active participants in their own experiences. In every industry that Limbic Media works in, from property development to resorts and attractions, to civic spaces, we speak with leaders who know they need to adapt. Disney’s new Star Wars hotel is a great example, turning a regular hotel visit into an interactive, story-based experience.

It is truly an unprecedented moment in history. We have an opportunity to transform lighting from a passive experience focused chiefly on safety into unforgettable and inspiring experiences designed to engage and draw the public back to support local merchants and tenants. 

It is in civic leaders’ and property developers’ best interest to capitalize on this advantage by providing these multi-sensory, interactive experiences for their communities.

Limbic Media specializes in interactive, engaging light-based experiences. If you are looking to revitalize your public space, we are here to help; please get in touch

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