Visualising Light Data

One of the goals of Lightlog is to help people engage with and reflect on light data they collect over time. Due to its size and power constraints, the physical Lightlog device has a minimal user interface (UI), just enough to display the daily light goal reached, and show if the current illumination is bright enough to be effective towards the daily goal (2,500 lux or above). Lightlog collects much more data than it can display alone, by synchronising to a device with a screen and more computing power, allows a rich, engaging, detailed views of your daily light profile, and the opportunity for additional analysis over the set of collected data.

The primary visualisation is designed around the full colour spectrum composing visible light. It’s an approximation of a full light spectrum as Lightlog records single sample points in the red (~614nm), green (~525nm), and blue (~468nm) frequencies; with a fourth sample unfiltered, capturing as much of the full spectrum energy as possible for lux calculation (an interesting future project could be to use many more sensors across the spectrum frequency to generate a high resolution spectrum with chemical absorption lines). For use with Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder, the three red, green, blue sensors provide useful information about the frequency of light exposure as some studies have shown shorter wavelength, blue light, is more effective, vs. longer wavelength red light.

Below shows an example image taken from real data displaying several days from November. Notice the relatively long nights and short Scottish days at this time of year.

Example Lightlog data for Nov 28-30

Below is a close-up view of November 30th; note the strong direct sunlight between 12:30 and 13:30, this would have been more than enough for the recommended daily amount of bright light.

Example Lightlog data for Nov 30

Prototyping 3D Printed Cases

Early case design

3D printers are a wonderful tool for rapid prototyping designs. They do need a little patience at first, experimenting to find the right printing temperature ranges and speeds, but once that small hurdle is passed the majority of prints work first time, making it a really fast way to turn an idea into a physical object.

The process starts with mocking-up an initial design idea, to scale, in a 3D application (I can recommend Blender, 123D Design, SketchUp). Exporting the file in STL format. An application called a slicer (e.g. Cura) then takes the 3D shape and cuts it into thin horizontal 2D sections, all ready for the printer to lay down, layer by layer. Once you’ve got the hang of the tool chain, you can go from making a design change to a fresh new finished print in a little over half an hour (the current prototype design takes about 34min to print).

For the last few weeks Light Log enclosures have gone through over 80 such design cycles, two different hardware form-factors, with over 40 cases printed, physically tested and warn, in 5 different material finishes using 11 different colours!

Smaller hardware case design

Interview with Project Ginsberg

In an interview with Project Ginsberg, I describe Lightlog and why a daily balance of light is important for mental health.

“Gary Martin talks with our Project Manager Lucy about the Light Log project which is part of Ginsberg thanks to Alt-w funding from New Media Scotland partners. The Light Log project is about creating low cost wearable devices that record ambient light levels and colours from a person’s environment. The data is visualised to show how exposure to too little or too much light may be affecting someone’s mood and energy levels. We imagine that in the future people using Ginsberg can use a Light Log device to record their light intake information along with any other personal information they choose.”

The full audio interview from soundcloud can be played here: