Digital Pixel Wall at kids.digilab.berlin
Object of the month November 2021
The popular cube wall in the entrance area of the Deutsches Technikmuseum gained a new sibling in June when kids.digilab.berlin decided to build their own pixel wall in each of their two rooms. Their plan was born out of the idea of building an LED light into a cube so it could serve as a kind of pixel, which could then be used as a visually effective way to teach children the art of programming.
While the large display wall in the museum has 12,800 rotating cubes with green, blue, red and white surfaces, the kids.digilab.berlin pixel wall consists of 192 open wooden cubes. It looks like three side-by-side letterpress type cases, each of which consists of an eight-by-eight grid of squares in which objects can also be placed. Hidden behind this display wall, however, is a long LED strip: a light chain, whose LEDs can be controlled individually. USB ports for the light chain and for data transmission are located in two of the white cubes.
The digital pixel wall is usually programmed in rainbow colors to serve as illumination during workshops for primary school classes or daycare groups at kids.digilab.berlin. Sometimes the workshop leaders show the children how to tinker with the display wall by using minicomputers to reprogram the pixels. Then, as was the case with the venerable forerunners from the 1980s, letterings like "Hello" or motifs such as an airplane can suddenly appear. A microphone on the USB port in the wall can also be used to visualize noises and tones using an analyzer. Volume and pitch can thus be seen on the digital pixel wall as various illuminated columns that rise and fall in rainbow colors.