ambient communications: research by Yasaman Mavvaj of TU Delft

Editor’s preface, Brad Koerner:

This spring and summer I had the privilege of mentoring Yasaman Mavvaj, a graduate thesis student at TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. For the past several years, I’ve guest lectured at Professor Sylvia Pont’s Lighting Design course, sharing my embedded lighting and ambient communications design concepts with the students of the Perceptual Intelligence Lab. Yasaman heard my lecture and was keen to dive into the topic of ambient communications as her final thesis towards her Masters in Integrated Product Design.

I challenged Yasaman as such: Lighting design concepts are easy to say, but hard to prove. Project managers want proof points and data, not just designers’ theories and platitudes, which often leaves the most progressive lighting designs and technologies in the category of “art” rather than as cost-effective functional tools for driving behavior (in retail, hospitality, urban environments, etc.)

On behalf of Koerner Design, I wanted Yasaman to research the effectiveness of using data-driven architectural lighting (i.e. ambient communications) to affect the behaviors of the occupants of a space. This challenge turned out to be quite fiendishly difficult to test, but Yasaman conducted experiments that help demonstrate the effectiveness of dynamic lighting and are most worthy of notice from the lighting design community.

I would like to give a big thank you on behalf of myself, Yasaman and TU Delft to the four companies that lent us the equipment for Yasaman’s experiments. These include:

SkandalTech, who lent us one of their Poet systems for connecting live data to lighting controls

Advertima, who lent us one of their amazing computer vision Location Analytics systems to track occupants’ linger time, gaze time, etc.

Pharos, who lent us one of their powerful VLC systems for converting video signals to pixel mapping

Signify, who lent us a Luminous Textiles panel as our primary dynamic display surface

I will be posting more about this project in future Lucept posts. To kick it off, Yasaman’s thesis introduction is posted below:

Raising Awareness with Light

Yasaman Mavvaj

In recent years, social media has played a crucial role in informing people around the world about critical societal issues and spreading knowledge leading to increased awareness. It is unfortunate that this raised awareness in social media only targets people inside the digital world and not the real world that we inhabit. Since many people deliberately do not take part in social media activities, they remain uninformed and neglected.

Yasaman Mavvaj from TU Delft investigated using Ambient Light visualizations to display social media activities surrounding the relevant social and health issues in public spaces. The authors’ aim is to inform people in the physical world, some of whom do not participate in social media but are eager to learn about different initiatives. Thus, encouraging them to seek further information about such topics.

The full research paper is available to download as PDF here:

In the paper it is shown that light visualization has a strong potential for conveying information. Therefore, ambient light displays integrated in public space, can be used to raise awareness by informing people about the amount of attention towards a hot topic in social media in an unobtrusive way by displaying live data gathered from different activities such as the number of shares, comments, and likes. Learning about top social and health issues can encourage people to seek further information about these causes. By providing access to reliable resources via links, QR codes, or other means, people can reach accurate information resulting in raising public awareness. The below video can help you to better understand this concept: