node red

Node-RED is an interesting programming tool that was recently open-sourced from an IBM project. It aims to make complex “Internet of Things” solutions accessible to non-coders via a simple visual, flow-based interface.

Node-RED is a programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using the wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click.

I commented in a Lucept post way back in 2012 on the importance for lighting designers to be able to experiment with novel control system ideas, to be able to model them just like other design concepts. I wrote:

A critical part of the process of design is creating quick models to study possible scenarios. Architects do this routinely, ranging from quick-and-dirty chipboard or foamboard study models up to elaborately detailed presentation models. And of course, the virtual world is essentially one big model, especially powerful with information-rich modeling concepts like BIM. Lighting control systems are rich in possibility, but fiendishly difficult to design, especially when designers are trying to create genuinely new concepts. As lighting systems become more intelligent and networked, control interfaces become more fluid, and sensing systems drop in price, the possibilities for innovation in control methodologies becomes apparent. However, what can a lighting designer or architect do to “play” with their ideas? How do you “sketch” or “model” a design concept for things like dynamic interactivity, novel cause-and-effect scenarios, or subtle uses of positional awareness to influence a lighting scene?

modeling advanced lighting controls, July 2012

It looks like that future is slowly, but surely becoming more real. The most aggressive experience design firms, like Moment Factory, have teams of programmers and UX designers to implement their most daring concepts. Plus they invest heavily in lab spaces and mockups. Maybe tools like Node RED will expand such design experiments to more mainstream projects.