In the Air Tonight is more than just a lamp that bears the name of a Phil Collins song. This futuristic lamp employs fans and proximity sensors for modulating the ambient music played in the room.
At first, the designers Zenona took into consideration the creation of an analog lamp that alters a flow of smoke with music coming from the speakers. As the results did not meet the expectations, they decided to create a digital model. The body of the lamp incorporates a wooden box that houses two fans, an Arduino single-board microcontroller and proximity sensors.
The fans give the impression that the air gets compressed when placing the hands near the lamp. Their main purpose is to help users better estimate the distance between the lamp and the hands. Initially, the fans were not part of the concept, but the need for a more complex feedback determined the designers to integrate them.
The sound lamp was programmed using Max/MSP (Max Signal Processing), which is a visual programming language for music.
Because of the way the fans work, it is possible to modulate the sound waves without even looking at the lamp. In what concerns the light, LEDs were used for creating an effect that is rather intense, especially in a dark room.
Before deciding which type of proximity sensors to use for altering the sound properties, a few different types were tried. As each sensor modulated the amplitude, frequency, phase, or intensity, the designers picked the ones that achieved the desired effect.
The lamp is called In the Air Tonight because the two capsules float in the air. The design is very intuitive, so people are able to interact with the lamp right away. There is no delay in getting feedback when the hands approach the lamp.