Unlocking the Expressivity of Point Lights
Since the advent of the electronic age, devices have incorporated small point lights for communication purposes. This has afforded devices a simple, but reliable communication channel without the complication or expense of e.g., a screen. For example, a simple light can let a user know their stove is on, a car door is ajar, the alarm system is active, or that a battery has finished charging. The development of commercially viable light emitting diodes (LEDs) in the 1970s greatly expanded their penetration and use. Low cost, small size, durability, and remarkable power efficiency has enabled their integration into almost every class of electronic device.
For simplicity, we consider a point light source to be a small, single color light emitting element with an intensity that can be varied over time (e.g., an LED or small incandescent bulb). Although comparatively simple (and inherently one-dimensional), with good design, point lights can be quite expressive. With multiple lights and colors, the design space could be even richer. However, cultural color connotations must be weighed, potentially reducing generality. Context is also important to consider when users are interpreting iconic elements. In this paper, we start with the most severe constraints to demonstrate the potential lower bound richness.
|© Chris Harrison|