iSwarm is a collaborative project of Advanced Architecture Laboratory and Augmented Senses Group for i Light Marina Bay 2014. It was selected for implementation by the event’s curatorial team in Fall 2013 and was on display 7 – 30 March 2014. The project was funded by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Philips Lighting.
iSwarm illuminates the water with LED lights with an appearance reminiscent of natural phenomena such as bioluminescent algae or the Aurora Borealis. iSwarm reacts to visitors with subtle modulation of its light patterns, triggered by motion sensors around the installation.
iSwarm uses over 1,500 LEDs (iColor Flex LMX). The iColor Flex LMX are flexible strands of 50 large, individually addressable, full color LED nodes. Each node can produce a maximum of 6.56 candela of light output while consuming 1W of power. A power supply with an inbuilt Ethernet controller allows individual nodes to be addressed via processing software. A proprietary library provided by Philips was used to control the color and intensity of each LED node.
The LEDs are deployed just below the water surface. After exploring a variety of waterproofing methodologies, including vacuum formed housings, cast silicon casings, and 3d-printing, the design team settled on deploying the lights within customized extrusions of clear PVC hosing used in the medical and food service industry. The team worked directly with the manufacturer to design a bespoke hose extrusion that was both large enough to encase the lights and flexible enough to be easily workable on-site. The layout of the lights was designed such that they created an evenly dispersed grid composed of equilateral triangles. This layout accommodates the most even movement of the swarms across the field of lights. In total, the installation is comprised of 1,500 LEDs strung through 1 kilometer of PVC hose, and covers an area of 475 square meters.
32 passive infrared (PIR) sensors are deployed on land, surrounding the perimeter of the installation. These sensors detect the movement of people around the installation. Sensor data was acquired by an Arduino Mega, which communicates with the processing program. Waterproof housings for the PIR sensors were designed and 3D-printed in-house at SUTD.
iSwarm has been covered by the media, including by The Straits Times, Channel 5, and Lianhe Zaobao. It was also mentioned by Singapore Minister of State Desmond Lee in his opening address for the event on 7 March and he subsequently visited iSwarm in person.
iLight Marina Bay 2014 attracted over half a million visitors.