Teambuilding with Raspberry PI and 32×32 LED screen

Do you want to do an innovative team building activity that will help you get to know your fellow colleagues? Or just do some puzzles involving creativity and programming? Then connect a Raspberry PI to a LED screen. And decide how this gadget should visualize.

Why?

I am currently on my third rotation at the Statkraft office in Germany, where I am gaining insight into the German Power Market. Today, my daily work life consists of analysis, automation and algorithms; with a pinch of delicious Bratwurst and Alt Bier. Programming is essential in this camp as we solve challenges with algorithms and a business mindset. Therefore work tasks can be quite varied; from simple things such as visualization of wind data, to complex problems such as the optimization of cross border trading strategies and machine learning techniques.
Recently, I joined our semi-annual team building event, which not surprisingly included coding and vast amounts of data. The concept of the team building activity was brilliant; create mesmerizing and cool visualizations of power price movement on a 36×36 pixel LED screen. The session resulted in a creative visualization of dazzling fireworks and moving histogram bars.

How to?

The Raspberry PI is a tiny computer approximately the size of a credit card. It can be bought for a few bucks. This tiny thing is the programming platform and communicates to the Adafruit LED screen. After installing the Python package the LED screen was ready to be dazzling in beautiful colours and tuned to the chosen brightness.
We developed various visualization concepts to find out what will the be most user friendly; to display the total overview or  to capture the last minute price movements, to use histograms or irregular figures, to show all colours of the rainbow or harmonise colours, and so forth. One of our ideas was to display the trades as fireworks, where the traded power volume and price were mapped to the size, colours and fade time of the fireworks. Another idea was to display the most frequent trade occurence on the screen as bar diagrams. Overall, the team building was quite fruitful, we got to know each other through an innovative activity and at the same time created a dazzling gadget for the trading desk. And of course it was also a lot of fun.

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