Block graphics live on …

… well, sort of.

I had the opportunity to spend considerable time at the San Diego Airport waiting for my flight to take me back home after the CSTA Conference. 

I don’t mind spending time at airports.  Modern ones like San Diego have so much to look at and discover.  Yes, prices are higher for anything that you might want to purchase so you have to decide whether or not it’s worth it.  Probably the most well known object on display is a replication of the Spirit of St. Louis.  You can’t get close enough to look inside but can get a chance to look around parts of it through the second floor window.

The display is also a reminder to “look up” when looking about.  Yes, there is lots to see at airports if you’re a people watcher but the displays are pretty impressive and you don’t want to miss that either. 

So, the two of us are sitting on a bench and indeed start to look up and realize that there’s a quite impressive display there.

It’s art that uses LED as its medium.  A quick glance doesn’t show much but if you stop and watch, the LEDs are programmed to show representations of swimmers going the length of the display.

It’s fascinating watching.

My wife asked “how do they do that?”

Of course, the answer is in the strategic display of LED ON and LED OFF to get the image that you want.

It also brought back great memories of computer science classrooms.  One of the time sucking, intensive design, and fun activities that we used to do was displays and animations very similar to this.  In its simplest, it’s just turn the light on or turn the light off.  Holy binary!

On the computer screen, it was just recognizing the actual location of the pixel that you wanted in one of the two states and tell the computer to display it appropriately.  I had to smile because what we used to do was the mirror image of this display.  In our case, the default was to have everything off and then turn it on when we wanted to draw or animate.  Here, lights are on by default and then turned off for the effect.  Oh, and our displays were flat.

If you’re at SAN, you have to make sure that you check out this display.  In the meantime, there’s always YouTube or Mr. Campbell’s website.

Whatever is old is new again. 

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