HOWTO paint laser graffiti over whole buildings

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43 Responses to “HOWTO paint laser graffiti over whole buildings”

  1. Bonnie says:

    @Warren Camishen

    If laser graffiti replaces the Bat signal, I’m all for it. I can never see it through San Francisco fog anyway.

  2. adammetal says:

    all this being said…
    I wish I had a laser gun!
    pew-pew——-peeeeeeeew!!!!!!!!
    (fighting evil for good)

  3. a random John says:

    The GRL Laser Graffiti project is what inspired my Halloween driveway game this year:
    http://www.kulturblog.com/2007/11/marshie-attacks-halloween-interactive-driveway-activity/

  4. Michae W. Dean says:

    (Last thing I’m likely to post on this thread. I can’t cure the idiocy of the world, or keep adults from acting like children with dangerous adult toys.)

    From the laser guy’s reply on YouTube:
    ———————————-
    “…..i never heard about anybody to get blind from a laser so far. so i think ppl are smarter that you might think, and the can watch after them selfs ; )

  5. ausuchinu says:

    Nothing nondestructive about pointing lasers at peoples’ eyes. Scary.

  6. Takuan says:

    power, distance, time

    of course, those so inclined can damage their retinas with dollar store 3mw units if they try hard enough

    I suspect the maximum incident exposure in normal use (of the graffiti system) is much less than say the “harmless” laser dazzlers used every day on Iraqi civilians

    a cleaning person working late at night struck in the eye by a transient bright light is not going to do their best to follow the beam

    be more afraid of Russian trawlers

  7. thegayrecluse says:

    There’s plenty of abandoned “shells” in my neighborhood (Washington Heights, Manhattan) that would be perfect for this sort of thing, and completely safe.

    http://thegayrecluse.com/2007/09/20/on-washington-heights/

  8. Pipenta says:

    Didn’t some kid just get busted for directing his laser pointer at an airplane?

    This is clearly a plot, all you need to do is swap out your little decorative laser for a death ray and MELT THE BUILDING.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is an european companie named SENSSA that organizes graffity laser marketing events. Check out their video demonstration in the website:

    http://www.sensaa.com/es/laser-graffiti

    Regards

  10. flyingdutchman says:

    Basically what these guys are doing is they’re scanning a pretty powerful laser across a pretty large surface.
    As long as the beam is *scanned*, it won’t harm anyone’s eyes. The energy of the beam will be effectively spead out evenly over the entire surface being scanned. The beam’s intensity will be high, but the average time the beam rest on any particular point will be very, very short. The average energy will be way too low to do any harm. If an observer in the building used as the “projection screen” were to look directly toward the laser, he/she would see a moderately bright spot of green light. Not unlike the spot of red light you see when you look into a supermarket checkout scanner.

    However, if the scanning mechanism were to fail and the beam would come to rest stationary onto one’s eye… that *would* be a problem.

  11. Takuan says:

    nope

    “why couldn’t you just use the projector and not bother with the laser, since it’s the projector that keeps the graffiti image on the wall?
    morgenmeister (1 day ago) Show Hide Marked as spam
    0 Poor comment Good comment
    Reply | Spam
    cause you draw the pic with the laser. (cam tracks the green dot and then the projector follows)
    and its about “direct interaction with the wall”
    sounds gay, but i hope you get what i mean…

    regards, f*”

  12. Lis Riba says:

    I keep waiting for MIT hackers to do something like that during the July 4th Pops concert & fireworks. A harmless prank to promote the school…

  13. jccalhoun says:

    well that was amazingly uninformative. OK, besides starting this program what do I need to do? How does it work?

  14. Moon says:

    I’m not absolutely sure, but I think the danger of lasers is having them pointed in your eyes at close proximity and not at a couple hundred feet through a window.

  15. Santa's Knee says:

    Wow, Moon – you might wish to look up the definition of “LASER” to see why you are wrong…

  16. danegeld says:

    My guess is that the laser beam is being rastered across the building in order to form the projection, so that if you are looking out of a window, the beam is only pointed at your eyes for a time equal to the area of your iris divided by the area of the building front, and that’s going to be enough to cut the dose to a ‘safe’ level.

    I wouldn’t advocate testing that theory by looking out the window through a pair of binoculars though.

  17. Moon says:

    First of all, Santa’s Knee, if you had just posted a reason why I was wrong instead of trying to be smart , we could have had a discussion. So maybe YOU should shut until you have something to say, hmmmm?

    Second, to Michael Dean, I WOULD be willing to be in this building at any time this laser was playing on it, which is what we are talking about, right? Not gazing directly into a 30mw laser.

    I do admit I had it wrong, I thought they were using the laser dispersed to actually make the letters, but I’ve worked with a lot more powerful lasers on a closer basis than this and my eye doctor tells me my eyes are perfect, except for the astigmatism and nearsightedness, which I’ve had since before lasers were actively available, anyway (1963?)

    But, if you think is a REAL hazard, then perhaps we should ban all automobiles, except for emergency purpose use, because automobiles are the leading cause of accidental death. OMG!

  18. Michae W. Dean says:

    (sorry I posted twice here, I hit back and refresh to check page and it posted again.)

    I posted my same “Fucking idiots” comment on the YouTube page, the guys deleted it. Guess they don’t like people pointing out that “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”

    I think it’s extremely irresponsible of Make Magazine to post this, encouraging risking other people’s welfare like this. Fortunately, it also isn’t up to Make’s usual high standards of quality, so there’s no friggin’ way people could replicate it just from watching the video. The guys explain the software (sort of…barely), but nothing of the hardware. Lasers? Projectors? How? What’s the controller? Never mind, don’t answer that.

    I love Make Magazine, and I love hacker ethic, but hate irresponsible hacker ethic. There’s a lot of that going on here, and I’m amazed Make Mag is encouraging it (especially with such a crappy demo.)

    Michael W. Dean
    http://www.stinkfight.com

  19. a random John says:

    Flyingdutchman,

    You don’t get it. The persistent image is from a standard projector, not a laser. The laser is simply used as a fancy mouse for input to the drawing program.

  20. Santa's Knee says:

    @12 Mike:

    “I posted my same “Fucking idiots” comment on the YouTube page, the guys deleted it. Guess they don’t like people pointing out that “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”

    Or maybe he just doesn’t wish to abide your vulgarity.

  21. Michae W. Dean says:

    #13 posted by Santa’s Knee
    “….Or maybe he just doesn’t wish to abide your vulgarity.”

    That’s a chance I’m willing to take from some guys who snicker like grade schoolers at the thought of projecting “nasty stuff, like body parts” (i.e. genitalia) on a public building viewable by anyone of any age.

    MWD

  22. wangleberry says:

    if lasers are a problem for you, simply don’t stare at them

  23. Michae W. Dean says:

    15 posted by wangleberry , January 6, 2008 1:54 PM
    “if lasers are a problem for you, simply don’t stare at them”
    ——-
    Yup. And if anyone ever shoots at me, I’ll step out of the way of the bullet.

    I’m square, real melvin, fuddy duddy, a buzzkill. I don’t think people should point lasers at places where people may inadvertently look directly into them.

  24. Moon says:

    #10 Santa’s Knee,

    Maybe you could tell how how lasers work, if you are so smart.

    I can tell YOU how they work, and there is attenuation over distance and there is dispersal through windows with most lasers.

  25. Michae W. Dean says:

    The PDF for this project on the Make blog http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/01/learn_how_to_do_laser_gra_1.html
    (which I’m fine with linking because it doesn’t really explain how to do it) suggests a “30mW++ laser”.

    We are not talking about small laser pointer:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_pointer
    “in USA this output is limited to 5 mW…”,

    30 mW (“++”, which I take to mean “or a good bit more, if you can get your hands on it) is a much more powerful scientific or industrial laser.

    According to Wikipedia, “Today, it is accepted that even low-power lasers with only a few milliwatts of output power can be hazardous to human eyesight.”

    also:
    “Even the first laser was recognized as being potentially dangerous. Theodore Maiman characterized the first laser as having a power of one “Gillette”; as it could burn through one Gillette razor blade.

    At wavelengths which the cornea and the lens can focus well, the coherence and low divergence of laser light means that it can be focused by the eye into an extremely small spot on the retina, resulting in localized burning and permanent damage in seconds or even less time.”

    …Certain infrared lasers with wavelengths beyond about 1.4 micrometres are often referred to as being “eye-safe”. …..The label “eye-safe” can be misleading, however, as it only applies to relatively low power continuous wave beams and any high power or q-switched laser at these wavelengths can burn the cornea, causing severe eye damage….”

    —-
    MWD

  26. Santa's Knee says:

    @#17 Moon:

    Read post #18.

    And then, JUST MAYBE, you will be quiet.

    Somehow I doubt it, though…

  27. Michae W. Dean says:

    #9 posted by Moon
    “I’m not absolutely sure, but I think the danger of lasers is having them pointed in your eyes at close proximity and not at a couple hundred feet through a window.”

    also

    #17 posted by Moon
    “Maybe you could tell how how lasers work, if you are so smart.

    “I can tell YOU how they work, and there is attenuation over distance and there is dispersal through windows with most lasers.”
    —–

    Moon, you may be right in both counts. But would you be willing to test your extensive knowledge by:

    A. Having a 30mW ++ laser pointed into your eyes from a distance through a window?

    and

    B. Take on the responsibility (ethical and legal) for trying this on unknown numbers of unwitting non-consenting humans?

    Also, Moon, I find in interesting that in one post, you are saying “I’m not absolutely sure, but I think….” then in the other post implying some sort of expertise which trumps that of the other people posting here. That seems kinda specious, and also kinda grade school to me.

    I’m no expert on lasers, but have enough layman knowledge of science (and law) to know that pointing them into office buildings with windows is a damn bad idea.

    –Michael W. Dean
    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/3220

  28. danegeld says:

    Their site listed the laser as being a 60mW CW “super illegal” green output. The full power of that beam would blind you before you could blink, if you shone the beam in your eye before it went through the diverging optics.

    but: They’re spreading out that 60mW beam over ~100 square meters on the front of the building, which is ~1 million square centimeters.

    so: The power that someone in the building looking out the window is going to be exposed to is about 60 nanowatts per square centimeter.

    and: The maximum safe exposure to a visible laser (in round terms) is 1 milliwatt per square centimeter.

    so: There is a safety margin of about 10,000 in what they’re doing.

    ….

    I thought MAKE is meant to encourage people to go out and try things themselves, and to be informative. The Graffiti video explains precisely nothing about how to make one of these things, and it doesn’t even go into how to check if what they’re proposing to do is safe or not, hence the discussion we’re having above.

    MAKE’s normally interesting, but this edition was too dumbed down — perhaps it’s the new year and so they’re running repeats??

  29. Anonymous says:

    I was reading this thread at work then I took a moment to look outside and a laser was shining through the window. I barely had the time to submit this message before I went blind.

  30. binarymillenium says:

    A much lower powered laser could be used if the camera and the laser where instead pointed at nearby dark surface (it’s not clear that that actually isn’t the case, the video doesn’t show enough). It wouldn’t be as intuitive as directly drawing on the building, more like using a wacom tablet as opposed to actually drawing.

  31. danegeld says:

    actually… I take it all back … I misunderstood what they’re doing. They use the laser as the brush to write the pattern with, they have a TV camera that looks for where the laser beam lands and software that turns on the corresponding pixels on the regular projector. I thought they’d hacked the projector to run the laser beam through the projector optics, but no.

    so: the beam is not dispersed

    and: it really will blind anyone in the building if they happen to look out before they could blink

    ….That equipment needs to be confiscated before they blind someone.

    bummer.

  32. Michae W. Dean says:

    #23 posted by danegeld

    “actually… I take it all back …..it really will blind anyone in the building if they happen to look out…That equipment needs to be confiscated before they blind someone.”

    Amen.

    I totally understand the idea that “all information should be free” but I also agree that “with freedom comes responsibility.”

    Bob Dylan put it well, “To live outside the law, you must be honest” (And I’d add in this case “…and smart”. And “understand your tools”. And “consider people other than yourself”.)

    Most hackers don’t endanger other people. These guys do. They give hardware hacking a very bad name. And smirk about what they’re doing without giving a thought to the ramifications.

    Bad hacker, no donut!

    MWD

  33. diluded000 says:

    OK, so point the thing somewhere that doesn’t have windows if you are so concerned. Yawl sound like a bunch-o-babies that were raised after playgrounds got padded and every kid gets a bicycle helmet.

    What if the message is more important than the arguably weak ass little coherent light that hits somebodies eyeholes? What if the message is being broadcast on the side of Experion or TransUnion in protest of the behavior of the people inside? Did the people that chucked Boston’s tea into the harbor worry about the environmental impact? Hell no. If you have a good point, make it at any cost.

  34. Warren Camishen says:

    ‘m nt sr hw y cn cll ths GRFFT (?!)

    f y cll ths GRFFT, thn y mght s wll cll tht llmntd dvrtsng n th sd f th GDYR BLMP
    GRFFT

    Ws th “BT SGNL” (sd by th fctnl chrctr Btmn) frm f GRFFT??

    ftr ll, prjctd lght s prjctd lght.

    GRFFT by t’s vry ntr s dstrctv nd HS BN thrght th gs (wrds tchd n rck, tchd n wd, spry-pntd n fncs, scrwld n dsktps, tc)

    bnch f cmptr gks dng “nn-dstrctv” LtBrt swrls n th sky s nt GRFFT…n, n, n!

  35. Michae W. Dean says:

    #25 posted by diluded000 ,

    “Yawl sound like a bunch-o-babies that were raised after playgrounds got padded and every kid gets a bicycle helmet….”

    Not me. I’m 43, and got away with unintentionally harming myself in a number of ways as a kid. Often in science experiments, sometimes riding my bike.

    “…If you have a good point, make it at any cost…”

    Wow. Amazing. At any cost?

    Personally, I am against helmet laws and seatbelt laws…FOR ADULTS. I am against no-smoking bans in bars (and especially against doing it in your own apartment, like Calabasas, California has done.)

    I consider myself libertarian (with a small “l”, not a big “L”….I’m not a member of the Libertarian Party.) I think there are too many laws, and people should be more responsible for themselves. I don’t like laws that only protect people from themselves. It’s counter Darwinian. I would have a problem with a law that tells a Make Magazine reader that he’s not allowed to grind metal to make robots in his garage without proper eye protection. That’s the robot maker’s problem, and doesn’t harm anyone else.

    I believe in civil liberties, including the right to follow Darwinism and take yourself out of the gene pool. I don’t think people need protecting from themselves, but I do think people need to be protected from the foolishness of others.

    I believe that “your rights end at my nose”…..If you are endangering me, you’re liable. And wrong. And appropriate action should be taken, including confiscation of gear, and possibly jail and economic liabilities in civil court.

    I do not feel that it is justified to endanger the health of cleaning crews (who incidentally, probably can’t afford health insurance) in office buildings to make any “point” of protest.

    I’ll make a modest proposal though: if you really wanna walk your talk, and have an important “point” to make about a corporation you don’t like, point lasers at the homes of the owners of those corporations, not at the impoverished independent contractors who have no power in the corporate decisions you hate.

    MWD

  36. Michae W. Dean says:

    Fucking idiots.

    They even say themselves, “Don’t point lasers at people’s eyes. You can harm them.”

    Buildings are full of PEOPLE! even at night, cleaning crew, etc….Watchmen who if they saw lights shining into the building onto the walls, it would be their JOB to look out to check it out, looking directly into it.

    MWD

  37. Michae W. Dean says:

    Fucking idiots.

    They even say themselves, “Don’t point lasers at people’s eyes. You can harm them.”

    Buildings are full of PEOPLE! even at night, cleaning crew, etc….Watchmen who if they saw lights shining into the building onto the walls, it would be their JOB to look out to check it out, looking directly into it.

    MWD

  38. historyman68 says:

    @25
    “If you have a good point, make it at any cost.”

    Sweet! I’ll call Timothy McVeigh!

  39. anthropomorphictoast says:

    @ Dean:

    You could say they might’ve been blinded by hope? *smirk*

  40. Takuan says:

    there is no real chance of eye damage using this system

  41. Crash says:

    Why is that, Takuan?

  42. Michae W. Dean says:

    The guys who made the laser tagger are online now replying (reluctantly) to comments on the YouTube page. They said

    “…we are in europe, so even cleaning ppl get health insurance ;”

    I replied (and am very interested in what they’ll reply):

    So if you blind people, they’ll get free medical treatment.

    I really think that the only way you can satisfy the many people taking you to task on this (over on BoingBoing forum) is to point the thing at your OWN eyes, with you in an office building, from the same distance. Are you willing to do that?

    MWD

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