One of the first things I saw as I wandered into the Maker Faire held this weekend at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, was this giant globe of light that appeared to be suspended in a cage. It had the image of a globe on it, gently rotating. I could see people through the globe as though it weren't quite there and simply had to go investigate.
The Orbital Rendersphere is what is known as a persistence of vision device, or POV for short. A POV device simply moves something fast enough that your eyes and brain fill in the gaps and create a solid image. Imagine looking at the blades of a box fan, as they spin fast enough -- it just appears as though there's a transparent disk inside the box fan instead of individual blades. The Orbital Rendersphere does the same thing, only with a ton of LEDs instead. Switching them on and off at specific points allows the rotating "ribs" to paint a picture of a solid globe.
Here are some technical details about the Orbital Rendersphere:
Over 400 LEDs placed on 4 "ribs"
spins at 450RPM
4 feet in diameter
30 frames per second refresh rate.
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Unfortunately, video cameras have a hard time accurately portraying the effect of POV devices, so the video may look a bit peculiar. You also don't see the fact that there is literally a power drill mounted in a welded cage at the top of this thing as the drive motor. They haven't posted all the details on their site yet, but when they do, they'll be available here.