USC team lights up Hackfest with art installation - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC team lights up Hackfest with art installation

13 Dec 2016

A University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer and student who turned big data into public art at the recent Sunshine Coast Council Hackfest claimed three major awards in the process.

Senior Lecturer in Information and Communications Technology Dr Mark Utting and student Michael Liu teamed up with local developer Mic Black and took just 48 hours to create ‘Light Trails’, an interactive, wifi-powered light installation on the Caloundra foreshore.

Combining their development skills with publicly available council data, the team won third place overall at Hackfest and was awarded Smartest Innovation and Smartest Interaction.

First place went to live music app Coast Live! while Sunshine Coast activity app Lucky Dip was runner-up.

Dr Utting said Light Trails used the wifi signals from the smartphones of people walking or relaxing near Caloundra beach to change the colour of large spotlights and streetlights.

“There are free wifi hotspots around Caloundra’s beachfront walkways and parks, and these hotspots can track the position of the phones and devices that are nearby,” he said.

“Our program randomly assigns a colour to any phone that’s in range of the light, so essentially, every time a person with a phone in their pocket approaches a light, it will change to ‘their’ colour – maybe pink or green or blue.

“It’s a playful, fun app but it also encourages people to get out and about and walking at night, as well as having public safety benefits.”

Dr Utting and Mr Liu, a Bachelor of Information and Communications Technology student, also won two major prizes when they teamed up at the recent Sunshine Coast GovHack.

— Gen Kennedy

Senior Lecturer in Information and Communications Technology Dr Mark Utting and student Michael Liu teamed up with local developer Mic Black create ‘Light Trails’.

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