every light source is a pixel

In many of my conference presentations over the years, I’ve stated: Every pixel is a light source; every light source is a pixel.

The first part of that phrase, every pixel is a light source, is intuitively easy for most people to understand. Most every digital device uses light as the primary communication medium – fields of light broken into discrete pixels to convey pictographic information to our eyes.

The second part of that phrase, every light source is a pixel, has proven far harder for most designers to come to grips with and understand the full ramifications.

Technically, it means that in our modern physical world, every light source is becoming digitally controlled – from the massive 4K LED centerpiece video wall in the lobby to the downlights over the bathroom stalls. The various control systems at one point or another move on IP networks, creating an inevitable convergence in the system-level integration running behind the scenes.

However, beyond that technical foundation, the ramifications of that convergence are profound. Our physical and digital worlds are directly converging. It means that our physical places are becoming portals to our virtual places. It means radical new experiential design opportunities that blend seamlessly across the physical and digital divide.

But the question becomes: When will leading designers, retailers, hospitality operators, etc. embrace the fact that every light-generating element in modern architectural construction needs to be consciously considered as part of an encompassing digital scenographic experience?

I recently started a new role as Director of Hardware Product Management and Application Innovation at Cooler Screens, a startup that has already developed North America’s largest retail media network. To some of my colleagues, I’ve stated that I’m leaving the lighting industry. Perhaps what I should really be saying is that I’m joining the lighting industry of the future. Because in the future there will be no difference between digital media and architectural features such as “video walls” or “light fixtures”.

There will just be one seamless continuum of digitally-infused experiences.

If you want to hear more, make check out my conference presentation Every Surface a Screen: