• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
German IT students play XXL Tetris on university building
Photo: DPA

German IT students play XXL Tetris on university building

The Local · 30 Mar 2016, 14:54

Published: 30 Mar 2016 11:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Mar 2016 14:54 GMT+02:00

The group at the Christian-Albrechts university in the northern city of Kiel have effectively turned the facade of a university office building into a 1,700-inch flat screen, using it to play historic gaming classics Tetris and Breakout.

"To play this game in this format is something really special," said team member Merlin Kötzing

Video of the project #lighthouse; Source: YouTube

In the course of their "Project Lighthouse" Jonas Lutz (Business IT), Andreas Boysen, Merlin Kötzing and Chris Kulessa (IT) planned the installation of a total of 56,448 LEDs to light up each of the 392 windows on the front of the building.

Each LED contains a custom-made chip the size of a fingernail.

The four young men even reprogrammed the Tetris game, originally invented by Russian programmer Alexei Pajitnov in 1980, to fit their purpose. They now move the virtual building blocks on the wall using a laptop.

"We put approximately 5,000 hours of work into this," said 23-year-old project manager Jonas Lutz.

Though replicated in cities such as Philadelphia and Boston, the idea of building-scale LED art is a product of German ingenuity, popularized by Berlin project Blinkenlights in 2001.

The word Blinkenlights itself comes from a pidgin German joke by US computer programmers in the years after the Second World War.

Four nerds with a dream

After Lutz lacked sufficient funds during his first attempt to start the project, the university press office got wind of his idea  – and immediately started looking for sponsors, even contributing their own money to the €30,000 endeavor.

During the 2015 referenda on Hamburg and Kiel's applications for the summer Olympics in 2024, the students showed off their project for the first time, orchestrating a count down.

By now, "the star of the night" attracts many visitors to watch the lights, take selfies - and play over-sized Tetris. In the future, the students want to provide extra game pads for those itching to move around the virtual blocks.

Picture of the game Breakout; Photo: i.ytimg.com

Gaming in the name of science

But the undertaking is not all fun and games, said Lutz. "This is not just playing around, we can do proper research with with this thing."

"At the moment, we're planning on a project concerning Li Fi [a system to use rapidly flashing lights rather than radio signals to transmit data]," university press officer Jan Winters told The Local.

"It's quite special because usually projects are initiated by the teaching body and are carried out by students. This time it's the other way around."

Story continues below…

Since the running costs are low, the LEDs may be blinking on for a while. "The costs for an hour of Tetris add up to only a few cents," explained Lutz.

And the university staff are not scared of complaints either.

"It's not like we have a constitutional right to darkness in this country," says Jan Winters.

by Max Bringmann

SEE ALSO: 7 German startups creating buzz at South by Southwest

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Law to force mums to give up identity of child's real father
Photo: DPA

Germany has drafted a law requiring mothers to inform their partners if their children were fathered by another man, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

Gallery
Germans race bulls too, but with a difference
Photo: DPA

The most important sporting events only happen every four years: the World Cup, the Olympics, and of course the Münsing ox race.

Attempted murder charge for Isis teen who stabbed cop
A police officer stands on a train platform at Hannover main station. Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Monday they had brought charges against a 16-year-old girl who allegedly stabbed a policeman in February in an operation for Isis.

Nearly 9,000 refugee children reported missing: report
Refugee children in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

German media reported on Monday that the number of refugee children reported as missing has doubled to reach nearly 9,000.

EU nations must not refuse Muslim migrants: Merkel
Photo: DPA

The refusal of some EU countries to accept Muslim refugees is "unacceptable", Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday as Germany called for quotas to divide the influx throughout the bloc.

Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
File photo: DPA

When a man swimming naked in a Bavarian lake felt a strange pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted.

Study finds rival Rhineland beers 'actually taste the same'
Left: Altbier. Right: Kölsch. Or can you even tell? Photos: DPA.

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a long established rivalry, not least over who has the better home brew. So the results of a new study might be more than they can swallow.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
8,441
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd