Celebrating the UK’s wild spaces with new lighting technology

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Siemens graduates help create collaborative artwork through innovation as part of a UK-wide celebration of the great outdoors

Graduate engineers from Siemens have developed an innovative, geo-locating lighting system being used as part of the Green Space Dark Skies project to create artworks in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The lights, named Geolights, have been designed to allow thousands of people to be part of creating artistic displays in beautiful landscapes, led by Walk the Plank and commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

More than 20,000 volunteers from all walks of life, including many who don’t often experience the beauty of the countryside due to urban, physical or cultural constraints, will create impressive lighting patterns using the Geolights that will be captured on film and broadcast as short films online.

Siemens graduates Annabel Ohene and Nathaniel Fernandes, based in Manchester, worked on the devices, alongside engineering interns Sam Rhodes and Sam Newton, who joined the team during the development phase. 

The devices developed include GPS-enabled technology alongside innovations including Internet of Things (IoT), real time location tracking, energy storage and wireless connectivity.

By remotely changing the colour of the lights, each participant, or ‘Lumenator’, will effectively become a pixel within a coordinated image of live artworks within the landscape.

The engineers have worked together with lighting company CORE Lighting, to integrate the Siemens processing technology into CORE’s lights being manufactured in Gloucester, using mainly UK-supplied parts.

Nathaniel Fernandes, graduate engineer at Siemens said: “Working on this project really tested what is possible when it comes to self-locating lighting systems in an outdoor environment. It has been great to work on something that has a fantastic social purpose, but also has potential applications in industries like manufacturing and logistics too where outdoor geolocating can support automation. It is a perfect example of technology that can benefit organisations as well as people.”

Robin Phillips, head of Siemens Advanta Consulting UK, said: “Green Space Dark Skies and UNBOXED are leading fantastic initiatives celebrating both the arts and science. This is a project where the talents of our graduates have really shone through and they have played a significant role in inventing the technology needed to make this project work on a grand scale. We are thrilled to see the displays as part of the events.”

John Wassell, Creative Producer, Green Space Dark Skies and Co-founder of Walk the Plank, said: “Green Space Dark Skies celebrates nature, our responsibility to protect it and our right to explore the countryside. The technology is a milestone for lighting in events – it means events directors can coordinate and automate displays in outdoor environments in new and interesting ways.”

Phil Ion, Managing Director at CORE Lighting, said: “The technological advance created by the Geolights and its control system is the result of extensive design and testing work, crammed into just a few short months. Designing, tooling and sourcing everything in the current short supply market has been extremely challenging within the tight timescale. This innovation has created a concept the Event Lighting industry has never seen before allowing any event involving a medium to large gathering of people to be turned into a massive lighting spectacle and will be looked back on as a key milestone for event technology.”

The next event will take place on 11 June 2022 at the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Green Space Dark Skies is open to everyone, and anyone can sign up to be involved.