Stadium Sized Cellphone Light Show Is Controlled By Sound

18 months ago, [Jameson Rader] didn’t know how to code. He had an economics degree and worked for a minor league hockey team. He did have a dream, though. Broadcasting data through sound. When we say broadcast, we mean broadcast – as in one sender and thousands of receivers.

[Jameson] didn’t have the money to hire a team to build his application. So he did what any self-respecting hacker would do. He bought a few books and taught himself to code. We’re talking about a smartphone app here, so Java and Objective-C were necessary to cover Android and iOS devices. The result is XT Audio Beacons.

[Jameson] has created a light show for stadiums which requires no new hardware infrastructure. Ultrasonic cues are added to a pre-recorded soundtrack and played over the PA system. Fans attending the show simply run an app and hold up their smartphone. The app listens for the cues and turns on the camera flash. The result is a light show which can be synchronized to music, sound effects, or whatever the event calls for. Since the system relies on sound, the App only needs permissions to access the microphone. The system would still work even if the phones were in airplane mode.

Transmitting data to smartphones via ultrasonics isn’t exactly new. Amazon uses it in their Dash Buttons, and Google uses it in their OnHub. Using it as a broadcast medium in a stadium is a novel application, though. [Jameson] also has demos showing XT Audio Beacons being used for more mundane purposes – such as troubleshooting electronics, or even as an acoustic version of an iBeacon.

Most important here is that [Jameson] isn’t keeping all this new knowledge to himself. He’s published the source to his application on Github under the MIT license.

You can see the system in action – and even try it yourself, in the video after the break.

If you want to learn more about [Jameson] and his journey, definitely check out his AMA on Reddit.

29 thoughts on “Stadium Sized Cellphone Light Show Is Controlled By Sound

  1. Next step, use a phased array ultrasonic beam to make moving waves and spots of phone camera flashes.

    A step before that could be a ring of speakers aimed at the spectators with the ultrasonic signals selectively played.

      1. It is scary and wrong to lure people into installing apps that feed us commercials.

        It is even scarier and more wrong when websites embedd the ultrasonic sound so that your phone checks in with them every time you visit a website.

        It is already in use to track phedofiles that watches porn, their phones connect to a server where their identity is saved, and the phones identity is coupled with the computer, witch I can support in that only case.

        But when someone stealthly implement it to save your identity when you visit an political partys website, it suddenly becomes dangerous.

        Who is tracking you, and why? What are they going to do with the data gathered? What if someone else gets hold of the data, a foreign country?

        Things that run stealt on your phone and listen with the microphone can do a lot of damage.

      2. For a couple of reasons:
        A few months (or years) ago, the possibility was discussed that computer viruses travel from one device to the other via sound.

        It was discussed that microphones could secretly tape your conversations and surroundings, now you are installing the App willingly. No more need to cover various hardware platforms/ecosystems and operating systems.

        Look at the possibilities of this technology and the pictures of the crowd in the stadium. It is not a brain-implanted device yet, but their phone is remotely controlled with their approval and their phone controls their actions. This is beyond email and social media, it is possible to make everybody’s phone beep/blink you in the eye/make pictures/vibrate with millisecond-precision. With this technology, I can control, where everybody is looking at with millisecond-precision and without being traceable.

        There are jobs that you cannot get without an Facebook account due to the impossibility to background check your nonexistent Facebook profile. Imagine a similar pressure for having such an App always active.

  2. Think I missed something. Watched the video and have no idea what this is at all other than a phone that lights up and some circles changing colour on a pc or phone or something with a screen on.

  3. Theory:

    The set of people who are HackaDay readers has very little overlap with the set of people (sheeple) who would knowingly participate by downloading this app to their smart device.

  4. I’m conflicted …… in theory it’s kinda sorta nifty I guess. However it seems like it would serve to condition people to be total tools (more so than they already are) with their (insert smart device)

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