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How to use colored LED lights to change behavior
Yay for pretty colored lights!

Did you know that you can apply many of the principles of gamification and behavioral influence with color . . . and moreso, with colored lights? Cool!

Color is a fabolus tool to indicate performance because color is the most easily and immediately identifiable signal. It's easier to undersand than a number, a word, a sound or a graphic.

Color is easier to interpet that a number.

This means you should always use color to comunicate your numbers. Assign each percentile of your data with a color band. 

I feel a little sad that colored lighting has not been more widely used for behavior-change. I would have loved to light up this post with more exciting examples. But on the bright side (so much pun-tential in this post), that means there are oodles of opportunties for creative displays of data yet for us to make.

The Ambiet Orb
The ambient orb was orginially designed 

The Wattson 
Similar to the Ambient Orb, the Wattson is a more stylish version of the color light. 

The device from that meetup

Your car dashboard
Many car dash boards light up with color based on your fuel level or engine health.

Google Maps Traffic reports
We are accustomed to seeing the color coding of blue, orange, red and the dreaded crimson carmageddon on Google Maps when we punch in our route. The color is easy and immediate to understand.

Some ideas for what we can do with lights
> Show a red light, yellow light and blue light on your taps and shower to indicate when you should turn it off. Show the blue light when using the desired economical amount of water. Then show the yellow light when the person has exceeded the the economical zone of water use. Then show the red light when the person is beng wasteful. The person's behavior and muscle memory will adapt to the economical tap usage quick smart. 
> Bike usage in a city
> On a potplant that has dried out

Why are separate light systems better than smart phone apps?
The problems with using a smart phone app for behavior change, is that your app is competign with so many other thigns that a smart phone needs to do. It also requries getting the phone out and looking at it. This question comes up a lot and was best answered by the founder of --- "Smart phones are terrible tools to change behavior".

Lighting system can be easier and less expensive to implement that installing a wall mounted touch screen app.

Build your own
It might seem overwhelming to build a device that changes colored lights from the electronic components, but I assure that hardware hacking is actually much easier that it looks! It's like electronic leggo. Each of the peices has a special purpose and fits together. It's often not that much more difficult to build a thing that it is to follow an Ikea instruction manual.

How to design a light-driven behavior change device:
> Decide what you want to measure
> Find a sensors from sparkfun.com that will measure that
> Purchase an arduino
> Purchase some lights, wires and bread-board
> Find a tutorial that will help get you there.
> Look up instructables.com and hackster.io for tutorials on arduino programming for lighting displays.
> If you're new to hardware hacking, join meetups and try and find a mentor to help you with your code.
> Hook it up and see it it works to drive change!

Get a membership to Lynda.com for $35 / month and do the course on Arduino. It's pretty easy. 

If you have any comments, question or ideas about this post, please let me know in the Facebook group.


Find this kind of thing interesting? Join our community of world-changers and get access to my free resources that show you how to apply data, behavior change and game design techniques to your cause for the epic win.
Author: Katie Patrick
Katie Patrick is an environmental engineer and a designer. She helps sustainability professionals, entrepreneaurs and civic innovators to apply powerful techniques in data science, game design and behavioral psychology so they can make epic wins in environmental and social change. She lives in San Francisco with her little daughter Anastasia.
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