The flyfire project at MIT uses small helicopter lights that are centrally controlled to make images in 3D space.


“It’s like when Winnie the Pooh hits a beehive: a swarm of bees comes out and chases him while changing its configuration to resemble a beast,” said E Roon Kang, a research fellow at the SENSEable City Lab who is leading the project. “In Flyfire, each bee is essentially a pixel that emits colored light and reconfigures itself into different forms.”

(MIT press release from URL above)

The examples they use with this technology are images like the Mona lisa – flat images made into a 3D head, or a swarm of lights.

This technology would be great for visualising the 3D movements of comob participants in real time. There must be loads of other great applications for visualising realtime 3D data.

Could these tiny helicopters be called ‘co-mobile’ – they are after all moving together – but they don’t communicate with each other on the move, and I think that’s key to co-mobility. They have a spatial relationship to each other but its controlled externally (as I understand it). It would be interesting to see what could be done if the helicopters were able to communicate with each other to produce swarms, then perhaps they could be described as co-mobile.

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