Who Turned on the Lights?

Have you ever passed through downtown Minneapolis and found yourself staring up at the building with the ‘cool video shows’ on the roof?  Whenever I am picking up an out of town visitor from the airport and headed home, I get the question of “What building is that?”  That building just happens to be the Target Plaza South, one of the towers for the corporate headquarters.  Those cool displays are what we call “Target Lights’, a unique concept to add dynamic artistry to the excitement of downtown Minneapolis.

Target Lights first lit up Minneapolis in 2001 following the idea of the Northern Lights or aurora borealis.  This gigantic artistic display is used to celebrate holidays and local sports teams, which made it common to see color schemes ranging from the Fourth of July to the Minnesota Vikings.

You may ask, what does this have to do with Target Technology Service (TTS)?  Well that magic comes to life thanks to a great partnership between Marketing and our TTS “Edge” team.  On a recent tour, I got a chance to learn how TTS handles programming and support for the lights.  Matt, an engineer assigned to ‘running’ the lights took great pride in his unique role and we all agreed he has one of the coolest jobs at Target.  He walked us through the original system which was comprised of spotlights and glass tubes all programmed to provide a unique color display over the year.  For all of you Star Wars fans, think of over a hundred 30ft light sabers side by side providing that colorful glow.  With the opportunity to leverage new technology while reducing our energy footprint, the new and improved Target Lights rolled out in January 2012.

The current system is comprised of 700,000 LED (Light Emitting Diodes) which reduce energy costs, burn brighter and last longer.  This design functions similarly to the computer screen from which you are currently reading this blog, only a lot bigger.  The displays are made of pixels spaced about 8 inches apart which all come together to make up the image you see from far away.  Combined with custom developed software, this provides capability to create and display countless dynamic images.  The controller computer can take any creative design and translate it across the pixels to make the video show ‘move’.  This has led to some popular themes, such as flying pumpkins for Halloween.  With over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota I personally enjoy the “Fish Tank”.

So the next time you are visiting Minneapolis,  wrapping up a late night on the town or driving in to work  before dawn, take a look up and enjoy the show.  If you are driving, just make sure your glance is quick, so that you can keep your eyes on the road.


Interested in a career in information technology at Target? Search and apply for jobs here.

One Reply to “Who Turned on the Lights?”

  1. Ummm… Why have the lights been the same tired, old show for the past 5 nights? Nothing is worse than looking out my window and seeing the same boring pale green display. My family WILL be boycotting Target until this issue is resolved.

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