Developed at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Spaxels (a portmanteau word from space pixels) are LED-equipped quadcopters. They make up a drone swarm that can “draw” three-dimensional figures in midair.
The project is a move away from conventional screen-based media. The team sees primary benefit of this mode of visualization in depicting concrete visual forms that transcend what can be done with computer screens, large-scale displays and projections. The source of inspiration for the project is the concept of the pixel, whereby coordinating the characteristics of individual points of light makes it possible to create an image or a moving picture. In this context, each quadcopter is considered an individual spaxel (space pixel) that, as part of a choreographed group, is able to represent a variety of forms, shapes and dynamic sequences. To make this happen, the team developed their own swarm management software and a ground control unit, by making proprietary modifications to the quadcopter software.