LED seesaw gives illuminated physics lesson … remains fun
By Simon Crisp
June 24, 2012
If you're anything like us, you probably spent many an hour in your younger days bouncing up and down on a seesaw (or teeter-totter or teeter board, depending on where you grew up. And, even now, you might fight the desire to relive your childhood and jump on one as you walk past a playground. But Melbourne-based design group ENESS has created a seesaw, which comes complete with hundreds of LEDs and a physics engine to explore the forces at work on the familiar playground staple, that might just prove too difficult to resist.
The 'A Tilt of Light' seesaw has been fitted with 33 rows of lights that react in real time to the motion and angle of the lever as children (and the occasional inquisitive adult) ride the playground equipment up and down. The high-tech seesaw was installed at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia, as part of a lighting festival called The Light in Winter.
While the Tilt of Light operates on the same lever and fulcrum mechanics as any other seesaw, and even has retro half tire bumpers, inside it's considerably more technologically advanced than possibly any other pieces of playground equipment we've seen before, including the Son-X Octavia swing attachment.
Each of the 33 lighting sections between the seats is packed with LEDs and can be illuminated independently. Using accelerometers this means the seesaw can show users how their movement would impact and control other objects on the beam – represented by 'balls of light'. At the rear of the seesaw seats there are another 180 LEDs, which flash when the 'objects' would have left the beam.
But that's not all, the built-in physics engine means users can also see how their 'ball of light' that represents various physical balls would be impacted by being in one of four different environments – air, water, space and yogurt. Yes, yogurt. By clicking one of four buttons before the rocking begins, the LED sections respond as though they are traveling though the selected atmosphere. As you would expect, movement is considerably slower through yogurt.
If you want to learn about physics, or just have fun on an illuminated seesaw, 'A Tilt of Light' will be on show in Melbourne's Fed Square from June 1st to July 1st.
Here's a quick video showing how the LED seesaw in action.