Element Labs LED Video

Abstract video animations scroll around a 338-foot-tall cooling tower in Drogenbos, Belgium. Illuminated at dawn and dusk since last December, the surface of the gigantic curved ­cylinder is covered in 8,032 tubes containing roughly 96,000 LEDs. The installation was created by Belgian design firm Magic Monkey using components from Element Labs, a company based in Austin, Texas, and Wolfenbüttel, Germany, that offers LED-equipped surface materials in four basic forms: tubes, thin tiles, pixel-like dots, and see-through walls.

Grouped under the name Versa, the lights are operated by a controller that transfers digital video from a personal computer directly to the LEDs. “Really it’s just a DVI video display,” co-founder and chief technology officer Matthew Ward says, referring to the Digital Visual Inter-face used for flat-panel monitors. “It’s very easy to create content.” Indeed designers can use a common software program such as Flash, Photoshop, or QuickTime to run the Versa display from a Windows or Macintosh computer with pixel-to-pixel accuracy, meaning what you see on the monitor is reproduced exactly in the form of LEDs—except, of course, much bigger.

It’s not like looking at a television—the size of the LED “pixels” means that Versa displays are inherently low-resolution. But this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage: low-res displays allow for large-scale installations without the prohibitive cost and weight of LCD screens or theatrical lighting systems. “Basically, low-resolution video enables designers to put this color movement in places where they couldn’t before,” Ward says. “Physically it just wasn’t possible.”

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Composition:
LEDs embedded in tiles, tubes, walls, and giant “pixels” to
create low-resolution displays of digital video

Properties:
The displays are lightweight and easy to program; the LEDs use little energy and will produce a broad spectrum of colors.

Applications:
Architectural displays, showroom installations, concert lighting, signage, public art.

Manufacturer:
Element Labs Inc.
9421 Neils Thompson Dr.
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 491-9111
www.elementlabs.com

Categories: Uncategorized

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