This android app lets you change the colors of the Greenway light blades

Planning to stop by the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway?

Before you do, download this android app, which lets you change the colors of the Greenway’s 24-foot-tall “light blades” with just the touch of a button.

The app, developed by Sam Cheesman, is simple: Users can open up the program, select a color, and then watch the lights change. Though the app is not affiliated with the Greenway, it uses technology already set in place by the Greenway’s Color Commons interactive art exhibit, a partnership between the Greenway and New American Public Art that allows users to control the blades’ colors by sending a text message.


Cheesman, who lives and works near the Greenway, said he was inspired to create the app after trying out the Color Commons’ texting service. However, he had no previous experience with app development, so he had to do some research beforehand.

“I’m in marketing for a nonprofit, and I’ve done some simple web and graphic design in past jobs, but it’s definitely not my forte,” Cheesman said.

After learning how to create a basic app interface, Cheesman tested out his app a few times and then uploaded it to the Google Play store last week.

Cheesman said he doesn’t know yet if the app is equipped to handle multiple people (“I hope so,” he said). Still, he’s already received some positive feedback from users.

“I’ve actually been getting a few messages from people who have tried it, and it seems like everybody’s really having fun with it,” he said.

The Color Commons project handles several text requests at once by flashing multiple colors on and off, according to Boston magazine.

Greenway spokesman Michael Nichols said members of their staff heard about Cheesman’s app on Reddit, but they haven’t had the chance to test it out personally. But he said the app seems like a like a logical extension of the Color Commons project, which aims to make public art more accessible to Bostonians.


“The Color Commons effort for us was all about giving people essentially easier access to changing our lights,” Nichols said. “The app seems to take another step in that direction.”