Huge Flexible LED Matrix Can Be Worn Almost Anywhere


[Erik] has been keeping extremely busy with his latest project, a flexible RGB LED matrix that he calls “Project Light Bright”. The folks at BuildLounge tell us that this is the first entry they have received so far in their “Light Contest”, in which they are giving away a free laser cutter to the best entry.

[Erik] hand soldered ten 16×16 RGB LED panels together in order to build this display, and the results are awesome. The entire thing is controlled by a WiFi-enabled Beagleboard, which drives all of the panels and then some. The Beagleboard features embedded web and DNS servers, which allows it to act as a wireless AP, enabling him to control the display using any WiFi capable device. The Light Bright displays all sorts of predefined artwork, but [Erik] can also alter the display on the fly via his phone as well. The entire thing is powered by a reasonably sized LiPo battery pack that he keeps tucked away in his pocket, which allows the display to run continuously for about 20 hours.

Check out the video below to see a quick walkthrough of [Erik’s] Light Bright suit, then be sure to stop by his site for more videos, details and updates on the project.


24 thoughts on “Huge Flexible LED Matrix Can Be Worn Almost Anywhere

  1. Erik gets a points multiplier for having a real, text readable- page about the project. Video’s are nice to demo that which moves etc, but seeing a text/non-moving pictures page is VERY appreciated.

    The project itself gets Hack cred for tackling the diffuser issue as part of simply wearing it. Brilliant integration! Using a LiPo also gets points for environmental goodness.

    I could see using this concept for things like safety enhancement- it graphically and textually warns that you are turning on a bike/skates/skateboard etc.

    1. Hey thanks for the compliments – the site is so 90’s style and verbose but I know I lack the nittygritty tech specs on there… so far.
      I get lots of comments about the safety uses (motor/bi cyclists), I would def. market that as one of the potential uses :)
      But does this really qualify as a hack? I think more of a build… Thanks!

    1. Well, that’s what happens when 5mm LEDs are the cheapest things around (at the time). BUT: Can you argue with the fact I get girls running up to me asking to feel/play with my many many “nipples”? ;) Surface mounts are next.

      That vid is months old, I’ve internalized the level shifter that was on the protoboard since, and the beagleboard is in a sealed case that fits in my pocket with the battery.

    2. That video is a few months old, I recorded it as soon as I saw the level shifting circuit was working (on the protoboard). It’s since all been internalized into a sealed case w/ the beagleboard and it all fits in one pocket with the battery.
      As far as bulkyness – that’s what happens when 5mm LEDs are the cheapest things around (at the time)! But don’t knock the texture till you feel it – so many people (girls ;) ) run up to me and feel me up!

  2. I hope he is using some sort of safety enclosure for his LiPo. It’s true that most of us carry LiPo batteries in our pockets nowadays (cellphones), but they’re about 20 times smaller and are completely enclosed, giving a bit of protection if they catch fire/explode. All it takes is a short and you have a fire in a few seconds.

    I’m not a “safety police” type by all means, but for me atleast the crotch is one of the more important places to protect.

    1. Yeah- you’ve got a good point. Such lapses tend to be an error correction routine for the genome of Homo “sometimes sapient” that gets it wrong. Being Serious, Energy sources are dangerous in direct proportion to energy density and release/time curves. Things with high energy density and VERY short release times are often of lethal potential.

      Think of them as potentially- Darwin’s- Evolvers?

    2. I’m fully aware of the risks involved there – especially since the packs have a warning label on them in nice bold lettering. I was going to find some kind of light hard case for them sometime (milled aluminium?) I do take a small precaution in that all my packs have a “Protection Circuit Module” that limits current and prevents over/under charge. I have a PTC on some, too.

      1. BE CAREFUL with solid cases. Of both the “gas grenade” and “vent torch” effects. Gas pressure unvented can make many cases into a shrapnel grenade. Unsafe vent management can produce some lovely torches with vaporized unburned corrosives and flaming metallic lithium even. Do your research on mitigations. Kevlar overblanketing and sintered metal flame traps are a good set of search parameters. The design itself of your Hack is a winner- and we want to see more of what you can do so don’t become a Darwin Report.

      1. I had an idea for something like this, but never got around to implementing it.

        Also, I had planned to use it with a microphone (I see you have one planned as well) to get some real-time/interactive visualizations going. I don’t know your update rate, but you could think about an FFT to show frequencies, show the raw waveform with triggering like an oscilloscope, a sonar mode, do more interesting stuff with dual microphones and localization of the incoming source… etc.

        Great job on the build! Do a matrix mode! Maybe you can do PWM on each channel for v3.0… :)

      2. Totally! Yeah an (huge) equalizer was in the plans via FFT, and do pattern/animation changes based on frequency ranges. I’d like to figure out a tempo tracker, too without my manual intervention.
        My first big plan in to do a Tron sequence where I have a scanner line going head to toe gradually building a grid around my body like the original tron movie scanning objects into the computer. Then some flickering & noise, darkness and finally a classic tron outlined suit lighting up. fluttering at first like an old fluorescent lamp before being steadily on. I also have grand ideas of having joint-positioning sensors on my pitts/elbows/thighs/knees so the computer is aware of my positioning and can draw something that looks static even though I move, as if I were being projected on to. But I don’t see that happening just yet.

        PWM’d channels are definitely the next step. You should keep at it, build it! and Thanks!

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