Local startup has plans to make the City of Light a little brighter

January 12, 2015 - 6:00am

The days may be short in Oregon during the depth of winter, but a local startup company is lighting the night with brilliantly colored geodesic spheres.  

Founded by Wayne Skipper and Yona Appletree of Concentric Sky, Light at Play is the creator of the Radiance Orb, a 200-pound sphere of panels illuminated by LED lights that respond to sound and motion.

With support from the University of Oregon, Intel, Business Oregon and Oregon Story Board, Light at Play is headed to Paris this month to take part in the opening ceremonies of UNESCO’s International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

Following the ceremonies in Paris, the team from Light at Play is planning to explore the possibility of creating an on-campus light technology installation at the UO. Utilizing the company’s interactive software, the installation would help graduate students and faculty transform scientific data into light visualizations.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Light at Play,” said Andy Berglund, interim dean of the Graduate School, “This is a great opportunity to showcase the diverse creativity and innovation taking place in Eugene and at the University of Oregon before an international audience of global leaders.”

The UNESCO International Year of Light is a global event that will bring together scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and government partners to raise awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.

The orb — and a prominently placed UO logo — will be displayed at the opening ceremonies in Paris, which are expected to attract about 20,000 people — including 1,500 leading international scientists, educators and industry leaders. Located in the exhibition’s central conference hall, the orb will be the first display visitors encounter in an exhibit exploring light science and technology.

After Light at Play returns to Eugene, Berglund envisions creating an interactive display where graduate students in the arts and sciences can collaborate and create unique visualizations of information, like the patterns in genomic sequencing data.

“We are looking forward to future collaborations with the University of Oregon as we continue to explore new ways to creatively visualize information with light,” Wayne Skipper said. “We are really excited about the possibilities this technology offers to scientists and artists alike.”