Sales of the Wind-lit: have closed for the time being, and development of the next version is underway.
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Note that extra production run units ordered at the exhibitions in Mashiko and Kyoto in summer 2006 will be delivered soon.
From The Works of Living World @ STARNET ZONE (Mashiko, 2005)
In autumn 2001, we displayed the prototype of a light dubbed the “Wind-lit” at two cafes in Tokyo and Kyoto. Wind-lit: Solar is the second version.
But more has been done than simply fine-tuning a few things: for example while the previous version was fitted with a button battery, the latest has a solar power panel. At night, when blown by the wind, the light shines according to how much it has charged during the day.
Solar power, a trouble-free noncontact switch, and a waterproof top: Yoshihirio Shimomura, circuit designer for the prototype, spent four years on and off developing these new features. Then in 2005, it all came together. When a light powered by solar energy was finally built, it had been worth every minute.
Here, molten wax has just been poured into a glass vessel containing the solar panels and circuits. The wax disperses the light of the LEDs, and at the same time acts as a mold for the circuits and parts. The plans provided by Kei Fukuda, who had helped with building the prototype, were revisited for this stage.
On 22 July 2005 at the STARNET show in Mashiko, around 100 lights were set up outside the gallery.
During the day, they generated electricity from sunlight, for storage by an amazing battery called an electric double-layer capacitor, employing no chemical reaction.
When the sun set, and darkness fell, the lights began to flicker on in response to the breeze.
People who had come during the day started to return after dinner. Locals turned up with their families to have a look. One person wrote in the message book, “I closed my eyes and sensed the wind, and when I opened them, the wind lamps had sensed it too and were starting to glow.”
The length of time for which the lights burn varies according to the daytime weather and the strength of the wind at night.
On sunny days, with a pleasant breeze blowing, the lights would stay on until after midnight. If it had been overcast all day, they started to fade at around 9 pm. That’s how these lights work.
Can you see the Wind-lit: Solars shining in the treetops?
The task of suspending them from the branches was performed by local nurseryman with an artistic eye and impressive tree-climbing skills.
Just before the show ended, we erected scaffolding in a corner outside, and added another 50 or so lights. We are still experimenting with things like the coloring and thickness of the paper strips.
This is what it looked like from below.
There were days too when it poured with rain, and this display of Wind-lit: Solar was also a good test of the light’s durability outdoors. In this sense, the hilltop location slightly more exposed to the elements was perfect.
In the middle of the night on the final day, Typhoon No. 11 passed right overhead, as if waiting for the show to finish. At the Works of Living World exhibit at STARNET again in 2006, we hung even more Wind-lits from tree branches, and enjoyed the summer night breezes with visitors and residents.
with Yoshihiro Shimomura (SDK)
Production assistance: Keisuke Hirai (NaK.pro), Kei Fukuda (maf*maf), Yasuko Seki, Satoru Sugihara, and Ryuichi Iwasa (GK Tech).