Design: The link between technology and productive industry

Adrian Westaway
Design Fellow 2008

Adrian Westaway
Vitamins

Magic Light is a patent invention which allows people to move beams of light with their bare hands by simply “pushing” the beam of light in mid-air. It was invented by Adrian Westaway while he was studying at the Royal College of Art, with the support of the Royal Commission.

The Magic Light uses a special configuration of cameras to detect moving objects within the beam of light, then, following a preset library of gestures it will move the light accordingly. One example could be to literally nudge or throw the light from one side of a room to another, or to “bring” a beam of light onto the dinner table for more intimate lighting.

Adrian received the design fellowship in 2008, and embarked on a journey to develop the technology further over a two year period. This involved creating and displaying a fully working prototype at the Ideal Home Show in London, and attending specialist lighting conventions in USA. The goal has always been to develop the invention far enough and secure a licensing deal in several sectors. The Magic Light has applications in commercial, office, retail, architectural and even hospital lighting – where moving a beam of light without physically touching a surface could reduce the spread of germs.

Adrian has been able to use some of the expertise created during the fellowship to found a thriving design consultancy in London called Vitamins, which allows him to keep in close contact with the leading electronics manufacturers worldwide. His work continues to use computer vision techniques, and he was most recently involved in creating an open source project planning system, called Lego Calendar.

 

"he became the first to ever receive a James Dyson Fellowship"

The invention won Adrian several awards, and he became the first to ever receive a James Dyson Fellowship for the idea. 2014 marks an exciting year for the project, with the Technology Strategy Board awarding the project a grant to explore commercial uses of the Magic Light, and starting development on the core system which will take advantage of advances and cost reductions in the technology. In 2007 when the invention was conceived, the word “gesture” was seldom used in relation to technology, now it’s difficult to find any technology that doesn’t incorporate gestures in some way!