Bringing Joy to the World

Here is a video of people enjoying the HBO Shop Interactive Snow Window in New York City. In particular I enjoyed watching the little girl to whom this display obviously brought so much joy.

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Having lived in Manhattan for ten years, I remember well the display windows in the stores as well as the extra effort that went into them during the holidays. One need only consider the Macy’s Thanks-giving day parade to realize that merchants in NYC regularly exceed their counter-parts in other places in terms of the efforts they will undertake.

Quoting from the Sosolimited website: “We built a snow blowing machine that senses people walking by on the sidewalk and launches snow into the air in response. The installation was developed with the openFrameworks programming API and the physical hardware was controlled using an Arduino. An IR sensor array detects how close pedestrians and window-gazers are, and using mechanical relays, switches on and off fans under the snow in response. A Large LED wall behind the snow is also reactive to street traffic as well. A sliced winter forest scene changes color and moves in response to street traffic.”

I too use Arduino computers, which are open source and available for approximately $30. All the software for them, compilers etc., is open source and free. I use my Microsoft Windows computer to compile programs for the Arduino and then download and run the program on the Arduino. It’s an ideal combination, the power, speed and ease of use of Windows combined with ultra low cost deployment.

While I have used multi-million dollar computers to solve sophisticated financial calculations using integer programming, I have never had a child dance and enjoy any program I have ever written. My hat is off to the people at Sosolimited and HBO; they have used a $30 computer to bring the true joy of the holidays to untold children and adults this holiday season.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us who work with computers could dedicate ourselves to using them to bring a little bit of joy to the world in the coming year?

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