Phone as a Pixel: Enabling Ad-Hoc, Large Scale Displays using Mobile Devices

Schwarz, J., Klionsky, D., Harrison, C., Dietz, P., and Wilson, A. Phone as a Pixel: Enabling Large-Scale Displays Using Mobile Devices. In Proceedings of 30th Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Austin, Texas, May 5-10, 2012). CHI’12. ACM, New York, NY 1245-1254.

Phone as a Pixel is a scalable, synchronization-free, platform-independent system for creating large, ad-hoc displays from a collection of smaller devices. In contrast to most tiled-display systems, the only requirement for participation is for devices to have an internet connection and a web browser. Thus, most smartphones, tablets, laptops and similar devices can be used.

Phone as a Pixel uses a color-transition encoding scheme to identify and locate displays. This approach has several advantages: devices can be arbitrarily arranged, can join and leave at any time, and infrastructure consists of a single conventional camera. Further, additional devices can join at any time without recalibration.

A device's ID is encoded using color transitions between red, green, and blue. A transition from red to green, green to blue, or blue to red represents a 1, a transition in the other direction (red to blue, blue to green, green to red) represents a 0.

This work was a collaboration with David Klionsky. A similar project called PixelPhones was done concurrently by Seb Lee-Delisle, whose impressive system has been demonstrated to work on thousands of displays.