Modularity is a very interesting theme. The more I think about it the more I find it ever so present everywhere and in everything. After all everything is a module of some larger system, its all about the reference. Reminds me of the movie Powers of 10 by Charles and Ray Eames.

Amaltas is a Lamp shade made of a very simple hexagonal module. I knew that any hexagonal structure would tesalate in 2 dimension, hence I started exploring various modules in flash, for the ease of modifying all instances by modifying the main movieclip.

The images below show some of the different patterns formed

I finalized on the last pattern, as it generated a nice floral effect.

The next thing to resolve was the joiner. Initially i wanted to just make two half cuts and slide them into each other, but that wouldnt be stable and strong, hence I decided to make two outer cuts on one side and a central slit on the other, so that sides could be folded and slid into each other.

The images below show the progressive growth of the pattern.

The images below shows the smaller version of the lamp.

The images below show the longer version of the lamp.

As the lamp is modular, it allows for creating various different sizes and shapes using the same module.

I couldnt come up with a good name for the lamp earlier, but when I completed the longer version, it was pretty apparent that it reminded me of one of my favorite flower, which is called Amaltas in Hindi, and hence the name.

Galvanic Skin Response

Galvanic Sking Response is basically the resistance of your body. And it could be measure as easily as connecting two copper plates. One copper plate is attached to a power supply and the other one is connected to the microcontroller that measures the resistance of the body when you touch them with your finger tips.

The GSR is highly sensitive to emotions in some people. Fear, anger, startle response, orienting response and sexual feelings are all among the emotions which may produce similar GSR responses. There is also a direct response between how relaxed or tensed you are to your body resistance.

Then the project was extended to measure the GSR over a period of time. For this, I madetwo GSR sensors and hooked up each of them to myself and my wife, while watching a movie. I figured the best way to get good responses of interest or boredom would be by watching a movie.

The graph below shows the GSR input over a period of 2 hours.

It was really interesting to see how our responses were very different at times, but also very similar at other times during the movie. It would be really great to see what was exactly going on when the rises and falls happened in the graph.

I also created another application that would layer the two graphs over each other so that, I know where I was more interested and where I was not with respect to my wife.

The image below shows a few parts of that graph.


Cactus is the first lighting in the series “Bending light”.The emphasis of the design is how light could be made to travel and change direction, essential bending the beam of light.

Cactus is an elegant table light that challenges the common perception that light travels in a straight line. It provides ambient light as well as, focused directional beam useful for indirect lighting. Using a minimum of materials and components, it is surprisingly simple but provides a spectacle rarely found in such an everyday domestic lighting product.

Light travels from a light source embedded in a small base through optical quality, precisely bent, transparent acrylic rods and eventually culminates in a bright beam. Modularity allows for creation of different structures as per the users needs.

Part of the project was also to create a brochure or advertisement for the lamp.
The images below show the front and back of the postcard for Cactus

Notus – Networked mechanical lamp

Notus is my final project for Networked objects and the Materials class. Building the lamp is part of the materials class and networking it is for the networked objects class.

Lighting has been my passion for quite some time now, and I keep finding myself coming up with more and more lighting design projects. There just something about making lamps that is very exciting.

Notus was first conceived as part of the materials class, as it would involve casting, mold making and working with various materials. The form of the lamp is derived from a lotus, and it can mechanical open and close itself. It has two rows of 8 leaves each, which are hinged at the bottom to a circular gear. Now as the gear is rotated, on a threaded rod, it rises up, and hence the leaves open outwards. The inside of the lamp would have LED clusters both facing upwards and downwards to light up the lamp evenly.

I first started with a form core board model to get my concept clear, and also to make sure that the mechanism would work.

For the construction of the final lamp, I first made a 3D model in Solidworks.
The image below shows a 3D model of the lamp and gives an idea of how the lamp would look like once its completed.

Heres how the lamp would look like when it would be closed.

The 3D model was then used to make a rapid prototype of the two different leaves. These were then used to make the molds in silicone.
The image below shows the 3D printed (Rapid prototyped) leaf and the mold.

The molds were then used to create all the leaves using liquid plastic. I added an orange pigment to give it some color. The interesting thing here was that the natural texture of the rapid prototyped model gave the final leaves a translucent effect which looked nice.

The images below shows the LED cluster that forms the light source inside the lamp.

On the networking side, the lamp is connected to the internet and has an online configuration web page. Users can control how the lamp behaves from this page. The image below shows the online interface.

There are various options for controlling the lamp

Direct Control: Users can directly control how much the lamp is open or closed through a slider.

Local ambient response: The lamp reacts (opens and closes) based on the light conditions within the room

Remote ambient response: The lamp reacts to weather conditions outside

Alarm clock: Users can also choose to use the lamp as an alarm clock, so that it would light up and open at a preset time in the morning.

The images below show the final working lamp:

The winding wire here was later resolved by use of slip rings.

Spinning Notus as it opens at the ITP Spring show 2008

Notus in its fully opened state

Tetris people

For the next project we were asked to get inspired by any of the painting styles of various painters or anything else that we might feel closely connected to. And lately I have been reliving my old nintendo days and hence have been spending a lot of time playing nothing else but Tetris.

Hence this project is inspired by and dedicated to Tetris. Once the program is trigered, it captures a live image from the webcam, and then tries to recreate the whole image using tetris blocks. The way this goes on is that it checks the color value of neighboring pixels, and if they do not differ more than the set threshold, it goes on the check the next pixel, thus trying to fit a straight line first. If one of the pixels doesnt match on the way, it then shifts to making another block, so on and so forth. Once the whole image is recreated, it animates the image just like the tetris blocks(In this case they fly up instead of falling down).

The interesting part here is how both the tetris blocks and the image live together, without losing too much of their own identity.

The video below shows a screen capture of the application. The image is seen more clearly from a greater distance.

Light Drawings

The idea of the project came about as I have always been inclined towards exploring various possibilities using light source. My very initial project as an engineering student involved making a rotary clock using LED’s.

This project aims at making Mechanical structures which create images spatially and temporally using light as the drawing medium. The concept is based on the phenomenon of persistence of vision, which states that the perceptual processes of the retina of the human eye retain an image for a brief moment. Persistence of vision is said to account for the illusion of motion which results when a series of film images are displayed in quick succession, rather than the perception of the individual frames in the series. Taking advantage from this phenomenon I intend to create light drawings using individual LED’s to create a specific path. The project aims at creating light drawings by making quick motions in space using LEDs as the light source.

3D Object
The first prototype that I made, was a simple profile made using a series of LED’s rotated on a motor to form a 3-D object.

Prototype 2

The second prototype was to experiment with different types of mechanisms to create interesting patterns in light and colour.

Pattern created by the mechanism


After creating these initial prototypes the next task was to think about the final drawing that I wanted to create. After having spent some time trying to think of what I should draw, I decided to concentrate more on the mechanism and let the drawing be unpredictable.

This led me to think of a light sprirograph, and thats what I ended up making. I got the main inner gear and the other rotating gears laser cut at AMS. I made the gears using a trial version of software called Gear Factory, which is a plugin for AutoCad. It allowed me to make the gears easily only by specifying the pitch and the number of teeth for the gear.

The image below shows all the gears cut out from a 1/4″ Plexiglas. I had kept holes in teh gears so that I could position LEDs at different places to get different results.

The image below shows the entire setup with the central gear being powered of a regular DC motor. The speed of the motor was controlled using a regular potentiometer, along with a PNP transistor. One of the major problems here was to make sure that the motor was fixed exactly in the centre of the inner gear.

Also The whole idea of having the LEDS movable did not work out well, as the centrifugal force was too high and would pop out the LED holders very quickly, so I ended up sticking the LED & battery holder directly onto the gear.

Here’s an image just when it started spinning, and you can see the streaks of light forming.

The following image shows only the green LED with a slow shutterspeed capturing the entire spiral.

Using only the red and yellow LEDs gives a different result.

And this one is with all the LEDs together. 🙂

Video Mirror

We recently visited the NY Hall of Science in Queens to see the exhibitions there as part of our Pixel by Pixel class and it was pretty fascinating and inspiring. One of the simplest and funniest things that we saw was the use of a mirror, where in one person would stand on the side of a mirror so that you see half of the real person and the other half has his reflection. And even though we now that it is a reflection, when that person raises his visible leg our mind tells us that he is flying……

So based on this I came up with a simple application which would again work off a live camera feed, and mirror half of it on the screen. The person sitting in front of the camera can then interact with it by moving around and creating various different looking versions of himself.

The video below is a screen capture of the application.