Lilli Szafranski | Innovators of Tomorrow | Intel Software


Welcome to Innovators
of Tomorrow. I am your host, Wendy
Boswell, here to bring you the sights, sounds,
and inspirational work from developers in our
innovator community from around the globe. Today, we talk to Intel Software
Innovator Lilli Szafranski of Lumina Labs and take a
look at her project Stoicheia, a three-dimensional,
2,200-LED art installation. Let’s get this started. [MUSIC PLAYING] All right. So welcome to the show, Lilli. Can you tell us what this
project is about in a nutshell? Stoicheia [ELEMENTS] is a
2,200-LED hanging dodecahedron globe. It’s got 12 sides. Each side has a different
image in the center, and each side has around 180
individually-controlled LEDs. And the LEDs run a
program and change colors. And on the exterior,
it appears to be stained glass, but with
all the colors changing. So that is really cool. It’s a very ambitious project. What inspired you
to create this? Well, my business partner and
collaborator, hardware engineer Jesse Banks, and I had
previously worked together on some smaller LED projects. And we had been
talking for a while about trying to do
something bigger, like a big LED art installation. Fast forward a few months from
there, I was at Burning Man, and I came across a coffee
table with some LEDs in it. And that’s when the
inspiration really struck, where I wanted
to do something that looked like stained glass, but
where all the different stained glass panes would change
color because they had LEDs behind them. And so I brought that
idea back to Jesse, and he really pushed for
something three-dimensional. And so we spent a
lot of time talking about what shape we could do. It was really important to me
that each panel had symmetry, like the rosary stained
glass windows that you find in old churches. Then we came up
with with the idea of doing a dodecahedron
because all of the faces of the dodecahedron
are regular polygons. They’re five-sided. They have the same
edge length and angles. And so it really
had the symmetry that I wanted, but it had
the complexity and oomph that Jesse wanted. When people see Stoicheia
at various events, what is the response? Well, people love it. It’s an interesting
story about the images that we decided to use for the
centers of each of the faces. After we decided on going with
the dodecahedron as the shape, we wanted there to be
different images on each face. But we wanted there to be
some central theme that united all of the
faces, and we weren’t really sure what to go with. Like, what are there 12
of, is the question there. And so I asked on
Facebook, and I got a lot of different answers. One of my friends ended
up saying Olympians. And so I Googled that. Apparently, the 12
Olympians are the main gods of the Greek pantheon,
the 12 gods that live on Mount Olympus. So Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite. And it’s great
because they all have such great icons
associated with them, like Apollo’s got the lyre. And so it was definitely
the theme that we went with. And so that’s what all of the
different images symbolize are the different Greek gods. Well, it turns out there’s
a book series that’s wildly popular called
Percy Jackson that’s about the 12 Olympians. And so every time we
have the installation at museums or anywhere
where there are children, they love it. They immediately recognize
that it’s the 12 Olympians. They go around. They point to each side. They tell their parents
exactly which symbol represents which Greek god. And so that was actually
a super pleasant surprise that I didn’t anticipate. This is a pretty
amazing project. Can you tell us more about
the software and hardware technologies that you
implemented to get this going? Well, so I’m a
software engineer, and so for me, writing the
software that drives the LEDs, that’s where the
real art came in and where I could
really have the most flexibility and creativity. And so for me, I really
wanted to take the opportunity to make something unique, and
so I wrote all of the software by hand. And it Runs this algorithm that
there’s about 12 distinct modes that the installation can
run at any given point. At the beginning
of each mode, it makes a bunch of random choices. One of the choices that it might
make has to do with the colors that it’s going to be. Sometimes it’ll only
be one color at a time. Sometimes it’ll be
two colors at a time. Sometimes it’ll be
the full rainbow. Some other random choices
are around how quickly It might render the pattern,
how quickly it changes from one color to the next, are all
the LEDs moving in sequence, are they moving
with random times. You get all these different
random combinations, and it’s never the same. It always different. You can watch it for hours,
and hours, and hours, and it just continues
to change, and evolve, and look different than what
it did five seconds ago. That is really cool. I like the idea of it
never being the same twice. So as this was a really
unique, one-of-a-kind project, were there some unique
technological difficulties that you had to figure
out and overcome? Probably the trickiest part
was drawing the imagery in a way that worked
around the LEDs. So we started with this grid
of LEDs behind each panel, and from that grid that is
the same for all 12 sides, we then had to draw the images
around the LEDs in a way that no one LED can light
up two different panes. So all the lines of the
artwork, the things that are segmenting it,
have to work around this pre-established
grid of LEDs, which is actually really challenging. It’s really hard to draw a
picture, in the first place, that looks like
an owl, or a deer, or what have you,
but then also do it in a way that lets each segment
of the stained glass light up fully, doesn’t
create weird shadows. You’re not splitting an
LED between two sides. So Lilli, tell us a little
bit about how this was built. Well, so Jesse Banks has a
maker space in Beaverton, and he bought a pretty
big laser cutter. And so I did all of the CADs. And we set the CADs
to the laser cutter, where him and a
bunch of our friends came about twice a
week for a few months and cut all of the different
panels from mostly acrylic. And people helped solder
the LEDs together. The physical design was Jesse’s. He also designed, with
the help of some people, the tripod from which it hangs. And we had our friend and
collaborator Eghan weld that together for us. And we probably had a group
of about a dozen people who came regularly to
help build it, which was really exciting to see
everybody in the community get excited about building it. That is really cool. So you’ve come so far
with this project. Where do you see it going next? What are next steps? Well, I’m hoping to take it to
a bunch of places this summer, which I should start
researching now. We took it to a lot of
different festivals locally. We’ll probably pursue
bringing it to Burning Man at some point in the future. I’m not sure if this
year will be that year. I’m going to look at other
things, like tech conferences. South by Southwest
has art installations that they bring in. So maybe I will apply for that. Thanks, Lilli, for
coming on the show today. We loved hearing about
Stoicheia and all the creativity and innovation that has
gone into this project. Thank you so much for having me. You can connect with
Lilli and follow along with her project at
the link provided. And if you’re feeling
inspired by Lilli’s story, learn more about the Intel
Software Innovator program. That wraps up this
installment of the show. Be sure to like this video and
subscribe to the Intel Software YouTube channel to keep
learning about the innovators of tomorrow. On behalf of an amazing video
crew, thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time. [INTEL SOUND EFFECT]

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