Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The sphere of balancity

An interaction for 600 visitors

The sphere of balancity, the German Pavilion at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, was an interaction specially invented for the pavilion.

Control and monitoring technology were specially developed for this innovative approach to interaction. The mechanics were controlled by acoustic assessment of the audience´s calls.

This sphere, which was fitted with more than 400,000 LEDs (3 m in diameter and weighing 1.2 tonnes), was invented especially for the German EXPO Pavilion – it´s movement was based on voice control. The ball was set in motion like a pendulum by loud shouts and picked up more and more speed over the course of the show. It absorbed the audience´s energy, flew higher and higher, faster and faster.

At its highest point, it started to move in circles. Through the images on the sphere, which depicted diversity and differences, visitors themselves built a city for the future, in which everyone will enjoy living and where everything has its place.

The balancity idea was beautifully reflected and brought to life in the swinging pendulum. Experiencing this interaction, audience members felt that they can truly make a difference.

The sphere showed diverse images of a city in balance. First it reflected the polarities and oppositions in its pendulum movement. Through the audiences´ calls, the sphere gradually received more and more energy. It took on their individual experiences and wishes and connected them together. In the final circular motion, the sphere brought the differences into balance, and balancity arose.

The interactive sphere was an unusual combination of engineering achievement and playful experience. Concept and creation of the sphere were by Milla & Partner, the special engineering was developed by the following University of Stuttgart institutes:

  • Institute for technical and numerical mechanics (ITM)
  • Institute for machine elements
  • Institute for control engineering of machine tools and manufacturing equipment (ISW)

„It was great to show the world a really simple mechanical system. Even the layman could see that the movement was not artificial but physically correct. And it was this feeling of naturalness that led to the almost hypnotic effect of the sphere´s movement.”

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Prof. E.h. Peter Eberhard, Institute for technical and numerical mechanics, Stuttgart University
Facts and figures
  • Diameter: 300 cm
  • Weight: 1,230 kg
  • Fixation of segments: 750 self-locking screws
  • LED modules: 1.561
  • 256 LED pixels per module (16 x 16 RGB SMD)
  • Mains supply circuits: 84
  • Controllers: 72
  • Signal processor: 1
  • Single cable lines (inside the sphere): 3,500
  • Mechanical construction time: 4 days