Art meets technology at ACU

David Fortini
June 08, 2018

ACU received an IDC Smart City-Education category award for creative use of smart technology enabling user interaction with a light-based art installation.

Imagine a place where art comes together with functionality enabled by technology and really, really innovative things can happen—things like Lightwalk, a collaborative, interactive light installation initiated by Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Texas.

Our congratulations goes out to ACU, a recently named recipient of the IDC inaugural Smart City North America Awards (SCNAA) in the Education category. The Lightwalk project that was awarded the honor fuels the imagination of tomorrow's smart city planners and architects.

The project was the brainchild of a confluence of opportunities. One opportunity was a chance to act on a desire to re-imagine an open space that resulted from the completion of a construction project. The second was a funding opportunity to design an art exhibit in which students could interact with the space. Together these created the catalyst for Lightwalk.

ACU Lightwalk 2

What exactly is all the excitement about, you ask? ACU students along with faculty members and the MakerLab came up with the idea to create an interactive light exhibit, which was supported by a software platform and inventive opportunities enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Once the concept was agreed upon they partnered with Viget, a hardware and software consulting firm to bring the idea to life.

The project includes 35 master nodes, 350 light reeds, 20,000 smart LEDs, 35 infrared sensors, and three temperature sensors. And, while all that hardware stuff is pretty impressive, the IOT software architecture that lets people interact with the installation via a web page is, well really fun!

Lightwalk uses the physical and digital interaction of special light reeds through sensing internet-connected hardware, a mobile web app, and a back-end program for students to experiment with. Folks in the ACU community can control the installation using their mobile devices. They can select the pattern, color, and level of physical interaction and they can create a personalized experience while strolling through the Lightwalk.

ACU Lightwalk 1

All of the possibilities are right at your finger tips. With three levels of interactions you can:

• Choose and run any of the existing effects
• Use infrared sensors to react to what the people are doing, for example, an effect named Bubbles lights up a circle of LEDs when a person walks by
• Program software to create entirely new effects

Lightwalk is an example of how connected devices, sensors and applications can turn any urban space into a work of art. But it’s the untapped potential in a smart city environment that is truly inspiring.

Learn more about other ongoing initiatives including how ALE is helping ACU leverage their existing infrastructure to support e-learning on campus and offer students a better connected experience at a very low cost. Check it out!

David Fortini

David Fortini

Director of Business Development, Government

Dave is currently the Director of Business Development for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s Network Division. He is responsible for the business development of ALE’s Government Vertical associated with their Enterprise Network Portfolio.

David is a Computer Science graduate of Pennsylvania State University and also possesses a Masters in Computer Science at George Mason University. He also has a Master Certificate in Information Technology Project Management from George Washington University.

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