This platform was developed with a whole range of applications in mind - be they autonomous, active or reactive/interactive. Wixels can be arranged in an infinite variety of ways to fit any kind of venue. Imagine, for instance, a decorative data sculpture in a lobby that reflects in real-time the data streams present in the building; or Wixel light fixtures that can be set to different moods and even visualize the music playing at a club; or responsive sculptures that allow the public to interact with them directly.
Because Wixel sculptures are actual spatial objects they can be viewed from all angles. As decorative elements, they hold the middle ground between displays, light fixtures and sculptures. For some locations it might be appropriate to hang them in a single shape, but it is equally possible to hang separate clusters throughout a larger space.
Wixels have an outer shell made out of a soft plastic sphere with a diameter of about 8cm. They are controlled wirelessly from a PC or MAC through an Ethernet connected basestation via a custom designed 2.4 gHz wireless network. Wixels can run on an internal battery, and for longer-running installations, power can be supplied over the same thin wire used to hang the Wixel. With the currently available technology, it is possible to individually control over 10,000 Wixels in a single space. Using RGB LED’s each Wixel can display any of 65,000 different colours at a rate of over 30 frames per second. This allows for the creation of slow-blending colours as well as fast-moving patterns. And, because the system reacts in real time, the Wixels are perfectly suited for reactive and interactive concepts.
The Wixel control software uses the OSC (opens sound control) protocol which makes it easy to interface with different software environments. In past project we have created custom solutions with MAX/MSP and the great open source environments Blender + Python and openFrameworks.
So far we have incorporated Wixels in a physical computer game-installation called ‘Wixel Play’ and a three-dimensional light sculpture called ‘Wixel Cloud’. These projects have been very useful in developing both our understanding of Wixels and the tools to control them. We have other Wixel-related projects currently in development and are seeking appropriate venues and contexts in which to showcase them.