The BarLight project cover image

The BarLight

The BarLight is an experiment considering how light can be used to transform and inform an environment. The BarLight establishes a constant connection to a remote server. This server can be taught (programmed) to control the light in a variety of ways. For instance, the light can change colors along a defined spectrum to reflect the outside temperature, time of the day, new mail in your inbox or even surfing conditions on the Pacific Ocean. Alternatively, information can be sent from a device (tablet or phone) to control the light. Use a phone’s microphone to sync the light to music, take a photo to match the color of a sunset, or use a simple color wheel to pick your favorite color. The list of possibilities goes on.

The Theory

Throughout history and across cultures color is used to represent ideas, moods, warnings and much more. The BarLight has been designed to tap into the power of color, giving people the ability to adjust and change the color and mood of their environment. The long slender design of The BarLight allows it to lean against a wall spreading a soft glow of light across the surface altering the color and mood of an environment.

The Hardware

A photo of The BarLight

The objective was to make the hardware setup and maintenance as non-invasive as possible. The main components include a micro controller, Wi-Fi, and an array of red, blue, and green LEDs. The LEDs are controlled by the microcontroller to emit the desired color and brightness being sent over Wi-Fi from the server. Approaching The BarLight, one will notice it has no buttons, switches, or knobs; only a power cord. All of the hardware components are enclosed in a aesthetically minimalist 4' x 4" x 4" walnut and frosted glass box. The box emits light from two sides, casting a soft glow.

The Software

At the center of the software is a remote server in the cloud. The server keeps track of all the light units and their current status. The server can execute scheduled programs, turning specific lights on or off based on a myriad of parameters. These schedules are easily setup by using a mobile web application. Alternatively, the user can send commands from the web app, passing through the cloud, instantly changing one or multiple lighting units.

The App

Image of the iPad and iPhone iOS app used as a remote for The BarLight

The mobile friendly web application is an easy way to control or make schedules for single or multiple lighting units. The app works as a central container or library for accessing multiple methods of controlling The BarLight. A list of available methods for controlling a light can be found in the apps menu on the left (as seen above). Several controllers already exist, and the library is open — encouraging individuals to create their own controllers. The application also gives access to all the lights a user has setup and the lights current status. The user can select a single or multiple lighting units to start adjusting the color or brightness with any of the controllers listed below.

Color Wheel

The most basic controller allows the user to easily select a color from a color wheel or slider.

Easy Alarm

Set the light to softly turn on over a period of time. Calmly awakening and welcoming the user into a new day.

Image Match

Snap a photo, select a point of interest, and the light will mimic the tone.

Colored Audio

Using the tablet or phone's built-in microphone, the light can be synced to music or ambient sounds in a room.

Colored Alerts

Set up alerts to reflect when a new email is received or anything the user would like to receive a visual notification for.

The Weather

Select a geographic location, and a spectrum of light will synchronize to visually communicate the outside temperature.

World Sentiment

Skimming popular social networks for keywords a spectrum of light is used to reflect the digital world’s mood.


Pick a speed, and the light will transition through the color spectrum.

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