25 Oct 2023
London's too big to see if someone's porch light is on, but it'd still be nice to have low-key hangouts without constantly texting a lot of people who might be busy, or tired, or away.
Plus, it looks cool on a bookshelf.
The house with the copper roof is yours. Touch it to turn the light on or off. Other copies of your house, wherever they are, will light up at the same time.
If someone's light is on, it means they're home, they're free, maybe they'd be up for a drop-in - real or virtual. Maybe send them a message? (Or don't; it's an invitation, not a command)
Q: This is a lot of custom hardware that could have been an app.
A: It could, but the beep of a notification was the wrong aesthetic for this. I wanted it to be something you notice in passing, not something you have to check, or something that demands your attention.
Q: This is a lot of custom hardware that could have been a whatsapp message.
A: Signal message, please, but yes, it could. But, particularly if you're Guess culture, that's potentially a lot of intrusion and a relatively low hit rate. Why not just turn on a welcoming light and see who drops by?
Q: Did you edit that video to remove a delay?
A: Yup. To save battery, the device only checks in every ten minutes. Precise timing doesn’t matter - it’s a porch light, not a bat signal.
Q: Why the name?
A: Internal name that stuck. If you've got a better one I'm all ears.
Q: Data collection, privacy, etc?
A: It intentionally collects almost nothing. Hardware MAC address (identifies the physical device), firmware version, battery level, and whether your light should be on or off. No real names, email addresses, etc are used anywhere.
Q: Can I have one?
A: I've only built a couple so far, so I don't even really know if the concept works yet. You can always drop me an email at email@example.com if the project's interesting to you!
A cardboard box with wires sticking out: Me
Beautiful physical objects: Amy Strike