The Cleverest ORB You’ve Ever Seen: Urbanbotics Submersible LED Lamps

Today I’d like to pose the question, is there anything that LEDs can’t do? We already know they provide brighter light at less expense; that they last longer than conventional bulbs; that they seem capable of easily oscillating among various colors. But who knew they could simulate underwater life forms?

Urbanbotics Brings the ORB to a Citified Waterway Near You

The answer to the above is Urbanbotics, a research/design/cultural exploration arm dedicated to devising “new types of dynamic urban solutions that do not freeze a potential dynamism and creativity, but provide the necessary framework for further developing the city.”

ORB. Designed and Manufactured by Urbanbotics.

Orb. Designed and Manufactured by Urbanbotics.

The above is quite a mouthful, and perhaps best elucidated by examining the ORB and what it does. In short order, then, ORB is a dynamic and interactive floating and submersible light piece with all the personality of a phosphorescent jellyfish. Or, if you’re of the mind that jellyfish—no matter how beautiful—don’t exude much in the way of charisma, perhaps a better analog is an otherworldly underwater sea creature.

I’m thinking in terms of the genial extraterrestrials from the film, The Abyss, who charmed the pants off Mary Mastrantonio while saving the life of the heroic Ed Harris. ORB approximates this degree of interactivity and interrelation by responding to the sounds of the city—both human and machine.

Orb. Designed and Manufactured by Urbanbotics.

According to Urbanbotics, ORBs “are a family of water lights that behave like herd animals in the ocean by reacting to the surroundings. Friendly voices and beautiful music attract them while a noisy engine or people yelling cause them to flee down under water hiding on the seabed.”

Urbanbotics recently confirmed the aspiration expressed above with a dockside exhibition at Copenhagen’s Nordre Toldbod Harbur. There, spectators witnessed a school of the two foot diameter, elliptically-shaped ORBs as they oscillated from blue to green to red (often in unison), dove down to significant depths, rolled and gyrated as if spurred on by an unheard music of imperceptibly raised octaves, and generally played the clown.

Orb. Designed and Manufactured by Urbanbotics.

Just like an actual living denizen of the deep, the ORBs run on a 24 hour cycle. Their antics are partially determined by a preset software program and partially by input from sound sensors that transmit feedback information. Conveniently, if the water should freeze, the ORBs will dive down deep and await the sun’s return.

About the Manufacturer: Urbanbotics aims to embrace and enhance what they refer to as the “performative culture of technological urban furniture.” In layman’s terms, the idea is to discover the untapped yet burgeoning modes of communication that will link urban inhabitants with the city’s infrastructure and with each other. Urbanbotics is best known for their creation of the “ORB,” a submersible lamp that interacts with the city and its inhabitants: “an original and custom-made underwater light solution, bringing interactive water-lights to marinas, water fronts, lakes, river banks, channels, beaches and swimming pools.”

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