Watch a short film about Lightbug that capture the ideas and journey to make Lightbug

Lightbug explores the playground of the future with a digitally enhanced swing that brings responsive light, colour and sound to playgrounds. It invites children to play, through digital interactivity, in both imaginative and physical ways. Swinging triggers light and sound reactions, and the whole swing is programmed to suggest different kinds of play activity and experience.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
'The Swing' Robert Louis Stephenson

The playground swing is one of life's simplest pleasures. Feeling your suspended body move through space, rising and falling in a fixed arc that flows first with then against, the pull of gravity, is both thrilling and reassuring. It remains a peerless, timeless invention and an open invitation to play, for children and adults alike.

That's why I created Lightbug. It's a magical, interactive reinvention of the swing that brings additional dimensions of light, colour and sound to the experience. By imbuing the intuitive, classic structure with facets of new digital and interactive technologies, the swing takes on a character and personality that can be developed by the 'swinger'. Using sensors embedded in the structure which respond to presence, modes of use and methods of play, and using game mechanics developed by the artist, Lightbug takes the art of the swing to the next level to show us a glimpse of the future of the creative playground and create a truly immersive and mesmerising experience that will thrill and delight children and adults of all ages.

The Lightbug team was led by the artist Tine Bech working from her Studio in London and as a resident at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, with support from Seth Giddings’ research into post-digital play, and Danish play-technological expertise from PlayAlive.
I want to have another go
Amazing, I felt great
- participants
The Lightbug project was funded by REACT Play Sandbox - a programme that support collaborations to develop new products or services for children. It has been designed to bring together companies, young people and academic researchers to develop prototypes that mobilise play in new transformative ways.

Play Sandbox is produced by iShed, part of Watershed on behalf of REACT.

Photos by Max McClure, Paul Blakemore, Seth Giddings and Tine Bech.