L.U.M.E.N — bring light into the darkness

Robert Klank
Mar 16, 2016 · 5 min read

“Let’s go to the museum” isn’t used in the present and fast moving media world very often. All needed information are fast and comfortable available by smartphone while sitting on a sofa and mostly edited in the web with commens and pictures.

Our solution to win back people for content is to create an experience. We integrated technical stuff like a smartphone. But because of the permanent presence of technical equipment it is important that it doesn’t dominate. It’s more important to get a comprehensive harmonic result and get the technical solution as just a part of it.

We wanted to create a product that is near to the user, where he can interact with, sparks his own curiosity and arouse the explorer spirit.

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L.U.M.E.N is an interactive lamp, which conveys information, helps users to navigate by using light and designed city tours in a new form. A smartphone, integrated into the body of the lamp, localized the own position via GPS and compares it with the coordinates of the next target. If a user orientate the lamp into the direction of a target, then the lamp lights up in full brightness, controlled by an arduino. With a greater deviation, the light is dimmed and shows the user intuitively the correct direction of walking. At the places of the tour, the user gets visual and auditory information about existing exhibits and relevant places.

The user not just consumed the knowledge — he is included by L.U.M.E.N to the exploring themes. By searching new objects, the visitor is integrated in the development of the tour and makes a stronger connection to the theme because of his curiosity. A classic museum or city guide is no longer necessary. Visitors can accept new challenges by experiencing their environment independently. L.U.M.E.N pushs the medial knowledge transfer in public areas and can also inspire visitors, who missing the interaction in classical exhibitions


We designed a corpus for L.U.M.E.N., which unobtrusively integrates all technical components to realize navigation with the lamp. At first a smartphone with an installed app will be placed behind milk glass. A short blue flash of a RGB-LED signals a bluetooth connection between smartphone and arduino, which is inside the corpus. A battery pack ensures a stable power supply. The RGB-LED for colored light and a high performance LED in the head of the lamp is connected to the arduino, which will be used for orientation.

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The smartphone is only visible when a target has been reached and can play media content.

With the compass of the smartphone the direction of the user will be determined. With the right direction to the target coordinates, the lamp will shine brighter. The greater the deviation is, the fewer the light will shine. To get a clear signal of the changing brightness, it will happen graded. The smartphone sends the current distance to the target to the arduino, which adjust the brightness of the high performance LED. The LED is protected against overheating by a heatsink and a lens at the front bundles a spotlight.

You can creat diffrent tours with different length. They will be generated with GPS coordinates along relevant places inside the app. For creating a successful tour you should know about the motion capability, attention and previous knowledge of the users.

Primaly the user will be informed by audio. Video can be used and shown as well if needed. It is important that the technical aspect don’t move into the front. This is the reason why the display of the smrtphone is mostly dark and not in use. A hole at the back of the corpus,milk glas which covers the smartphone and the visual use of silhouette video clips is a smart way to combine the hight-tech medium with the lamp build in the 60s.

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The lamp is adapted to an exhibition on a former military terrain and can be adapted for each topic and and the claims of target groups.

The deposited information will be played by reaching the next point within a radius of 10 meters. We need this range of radius to compensate inaccuracy of GPS tracking.

To reach a large immersion, content and corpus of the lamp should be specially prepared and designed for the used theme. For a tour through an old military base the lamp has an old military look as you can see in the picture alongside. The relation between content and product design and the useage at night creates a strong tension which strengthen the feeling of adventure.


The first prototype has shown a natural usability of L.U.M.E.N. because it is self explanatory. Concept and functions are declared within a few scentences. So there is no barrier and users learn by doing. This aspect also underlines the suggestion of exploration. With stable GPS tracking content will be told and shown at the marked positions. Especially small objects and elements should be mentioned by the speaker. Then, an attention steering is working fine.

A problematic component is the smartphone compass: it provides divergent data and should be replaced by a more accurate sensor which could be connected to the arduino. An extern audio source should be added in the corpus as well. The audio sound and level of the smartphone is bad and too quiet to listen in a group of 5 to 10 persons. With this few changes we can optimize the user experience enormously and can go on with some realistic testings.

With L.U.M.E.N. we created a solution to excite people for obviously dry content by activating their interest in a playful and discovery way. A normal tour changes to a research and adventure trip, knowledge transmission is given in different ways and give a strong sense of direction. By using the corpus of the lamp for technical equipment the attention is focused on the Interaction and the exploration.


Mareike Gabele, Robert Klank, Nicolas Pepping, Eric Schmieder

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We would like to thank reps. Prof. Jens Wunderling and Prof. Dr. Michael Herzog, who realized the project as a cooperation between the courses of studies Interaction Design and electrical engineering.


You need more? Download the presskit here (english and german text, information about authors and project)

extended exhibition

Context-sensitive communication in museums and other…

Robert Klank

Written by

media pedagogue, digital native, interaction designer and film enthusiasts. I ❤ creativity and finding new solutions. See my work @ www.designer-magdeburg.de

extended exhibition

Context-sensitive communication in museums and other exhibition spaces — A cooperation between the courses of studies Interaction Design and electrical engineering at the Magdeburg-Stendal University

Robert Klank

Written by

media pedagogue, digital native, interaction designer and film enthusiasts. I ❤ creativity and finding new solutions. See my work @ www.designer-magdeburg.de

extended exhibition

Context-sensitive communication in museums and other exhibition spaces — A cooperation between the courses of studies Interaction Design and electrical engineering at the Magdeburg-Stendal University

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