The Living – River Glow (2007)

Plastic, rubber seals, LEDs, fiber optic strands, PH electrode, custom circuitry, solar cells, NiMH batteries. 10" diameter, 16" high.

Light design and custom electronics for NYC architecture firm The Living.

River Glow is a floating illuminated sculptural object designed by The Living that changes colors when it senses pollution. A cloud of fiber optic strands pulses slowly with green light if the water is healthy. A soon as pollution is detected the color switches to red. River Glow uses rechargeable batteries, and the next iteration will utilize solar power for minimal environmental impact. The first prototype, exhibited at the Nordic Exceptional Trendshop in Denmark, uses a PH sensor probe that can test down to 10 feet below the surface of the water. A cluster of these objects could theoretically pinpoint polluting culprits. If distributed in public waterways such as the East River in New York, the light is bright enough to be seen by waterfront pedestrians.

River Glow uses a small array of ultra-bright high efficiency LEDs and a hacked off-the-shelf PH sensor. All components are sealed inside a water-tight transparent enclosure. When the water passes a certain threshold of acidity, the LEDs turn red. Acidity is a reliable early indicator of pollution, although future iterations will incorporate more sophisticated sensors. The exact PH threshold can be adjusted with a small knob inside the object. A solar cell could collect enough energy during the day to power the sensor and LEDs throughout the night.

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