Saturday, August 21, 2010

where are we up the world of fibre optics...

An optical fiber is made up of its core, (which carries the light pulses), its cladding (which reflects the light pulses back into the core) and its buffer coating (the skin which protects the core and cladding from moisture, damage, etc.). A fibre optic can carry up to 10 million messages at any one time, using light pulses.

Fiber optics is the marriage of applied science and engineering concerning design and application of optic fibers. Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications permitting transmission of signals over long distances and at much higher bandwidths than other forms of communication. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with no susceptibility to interference and less loss of signal. Fibers are growingly used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so they can be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in tight spaces.

Fibers are widely used in illumination applications. They are used in medical applications where bright light needs to be shone on a target without a clear line-of-sight path. In some buildings, optical fibers are used to route sunlight from the roof to other parts of the building. Optical fiber illumination is also used for decorative applications, including signage, art, displays and artificial lighting displays.

A piece previously exhibited in MADE Design's cooler in Toronto exhibition is a fibre optic table lamp. The coloured light forms planes that create a proxy lamp within the boundaries of the casing.

Optical fiber is an intrinsic part of the light-transmitting concrete building product, LiTraCon. Developed in 2001 by Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi and scientists from the Technical University of Budapest, LiTraCon is 'light transmitting concrete'. Made of fine concrete embedded with 4% (by weight) of optical glass fiber, and can be purchased as large blocks. The most notable installation of it to date is Europe Gate a 4 m high sculpture made of LiTraCon blocks, erected in 2004 in observance of the entry of Hungary into the European Union. The product won the German "Red Dot 2005 Design Award" for 'highest design qualities'. Though expensive, Litracon appeals to architects because it is stronger than glass and translucent unlike concrete.

Optical fiber is now used regularly in everyday products, for novelty lighting, see frisby below, andhas even made its way into fashion. As it is a safe light to touch, with a long lasting lighting life, it has been incorporated into shoes and clothing.

More recently, fiber optic has been used in signage and digital screens, and has made its way into architecture, in the form of large building facades and screen technologies.

In the Shanghai Pavillion below, feautring at the World Expo in Shanghai 2010, the 'Dream Cube' is the result of a collaborative effort between New York-based ESI Design and Chinese firm Atelier FCIZ Architects. The building changes colours based on visitor's movements and incorporates thousands of photos of the building's visiting crowds.

Digital elements were incorporated in the building design from the beginning, rather than being 'tacked on' toward the end of a project, which resulted in a successful, innovative building with its digital technologies an integral part of the experience of visiting this exceptional building.

Within the pavilion, photos submitted by Chinese citizens float in space as part of a multi-layered path through the exhibit. Along the way, fiber optic tubes respond to visitors' waving arms. The trip through this dreamscape ends up in a 360-degree theater, 100 feet in diameter, and surrounded by a 14-foot-high screen. As people gather in the theater they're asked to clap, in a sort of Chinese Tinkerbell moment, which triggers changes in the LED lights on the cube's exterior. People approaching the exhibit will see the whole building change color, in response to visitors inside.

In the words of ESI founder Edwin Schlossberg, in regards to this building, "I like to design something where the story is composed by the people participating in it. It's a sign of where we're going, and we're just beginning that odyssey now."

Drawing inspiration from the present use of fiber optics in architecture, in conjunction with our developed metaphor of the predator/prey analogy, the lion and the zebra, it is integral to represent the skin, or fur, of these animals, in the building's facade. Fiber optics have so far been the most technological and ideal form of representation of this metaphor, through their soft, fibrous nature. It is conceived that thousands of fibre optics might form a digital screen facade, that collectively, shows coloured digital images, to tourists and professionals alike.

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