Curb Office Productivity With Expensive LED Wall

Hero-Design wants you to make art at work with this mesmerizing contraption and as far as we’re concerned they hit the nail right on the head with the inclusion of LEDs, we’re whores for LEDs. The team over at Hero have come up with an interactive wall of 464 pixels that can be individually controlled to display any of the available colors simply by turning the circular pixel in either direction.

The design is quite elegant with a luxurious color scheme of black on black on black. Until you touch a knob or play an animation, that is. The large wall unit comes with a custom designed animation of your choice along with three other animations (and hopefully instructions to create your own animation from scratch). They have taken some precautions that we’re pleased to see: each pixel has redundant LEDs in the case that one goes out and if the worst happens and the redundant goes up in smoke not to worry, each pixel is easily replaceable due to its modular design.

When it comes to price things get a little far-fetched, the model shown in the pictures and video comes in at a reasonable $25,000 and best we can tell it shows up at your door in the form of a 250lb problem that needs a few fellas worth of solution. If you’re still interested but find yourself saying: “HaD, everything you’re saying is absolutely amazing! The only problem I have is that I need MOAR LEDs! Can I buy a larger version?” Well you’re in luck, they do not technically offer a larger version of the product. They will sell you two of these at a quantity discount which brings the grand total to $50,000. We think this is a steal at twice the price and should be a breeze to hang 500lbs of LEDs without any help.

We covered a BBB + FPGA controlled LED wall before, this may be the first with individual pixel interaction that we’ve seen.

47 thoughts on “Curb Office Productivity With Expensive LED Wall

  1. My guess is that there is a microcontroller for each pixel, reading a relative rotary encoder, with a power and data connection to a bus behind it. That squares with the modular description. My guess at cost would be around $5 per pixel, so something like this would be possible at around $4000 for 800 pixels, with some additional for the power supply and master controller.

      1. Why? Quoting current AliExpress prices, you can get a TINY85 board for $1.37, a rotary encoder for 38¢, and an RGB LED for approximately zip. No need to mess with building custom electronics for this project. You could surely find something off-the-shelf to repurpose as the round housing. 25 kilobucks for this is absurd^2.

        Also, rather than a 250lb “problem”, I’d sell this as individual modules with a screw hole in the back of each for attaching it to the surface of your choice. A small cable out the back connects to the hidden bus that goes to the master controller and provides power. Piece of pie, as Max says.

        1. Why? Well, its a noob question really. After seeing the hint of a micro in every pixel, I thought that could be one way to reduce cost. Since I had seen many LED matrix solutions, the shift and decade products seemed like they’d work for scanning and giggling lights on and off. Continuing, I know I2C can chain 1000+ devices, so I figured to similarly enabled devices could be used to read the encoders and control the pixel color. But, like I said, it was a noob question aimed at finding a less expensive way to accomplish this task.

          Thanks for your response.

        1. You seem to have overlooked that it communicates with a “central controller”. 512-ish separate pulse trains is a bit much to expect that to deal with.

          What we really need is a bidirectional WS2812 chip with a rotary encoder input, though I think my TINY85 plan is a reasonable substitute.

          1. @[SavannahLion] (damn this comment nesting limitation…) I like wireless too, but:

            An issue with using WiFi (or any other radio solution) is that 464 transceivers operating that close together would surely cause problems–the problem is infamous at conventions when everyone is using WiFi, and they aren’t (usually :-) packed together with anything like this density. In addition to the signal jamming, running all this off of one router is going to really bog down the router.

            Also, even the cheapest WiFi modules are going to cost a few bucks each, whereas using I2C that’s built into the controller costs only the interconnecting wire.

            And, hundreds of radio transceivers operating simultaneously are going to use a significant amount of power.

    1. Again, that’s just a very ordinary array of remote-controlled smart pixels. Not the same thing at all as having local control at each pixel. The unusual hands-on interactivity is what makes this fun (and a tad more challenging to construct).

      1. It’s weird that two different commenters have pointed to the same irrelevant smart pixel panel, when there are zillions out there. Perhaps the large round covers on these makes them superficially resemble the subject at hand.

  2. I think it needs a Bluetooth or IoT module for people to update it with a cell phone app.
    That should only add about $10K to the price. (tongue in cheek)
    Two modules should be able to communicate back and forth, and play “Life” or “Battleship”

    1. There’s a central controller for playing animations, so it can already play Life. All that’s needed for interactive games like Battleship is for that bus to be bidirectional so that the controller can read the rotary inputs. No biggie.

      Designing a more capable, vastly less expensive version of this would be almost trivial. Building it would be something of a pain in the butt (having a TechShop nearby would help), but I’ve seen a lot worse on HaD.

      I’m stunned that no one has yet made the clueless comment that you could control it from your smartphone without needing the rotary inputs. Must be too early in the morning for those types to be up.

  3. There is a place in my town called impression 5 that has a wall like this, it’s been installed there for years. Instead you push plastic pegs into the board and turn them to change colors. Pull the peg out and that pixel goes dark.

  4. Okay, I’ve stopped babbling long enough to carefully read through the Hero Design website, and my conclusion is that these guys have been smoking something seriously disorienting if they’re trying to build a business around this toy. It’s an attractive design, so much so that I’m seriously considering modifying my current LED wall project to have rotary inputs like this. But therein lies the problem–this thing is EASY to clone, and even improve upon. If they get any visibility at all (which I suppose they just have), they’re going to be clobbered by clones in no time flat. Their blather about ROI and their “tech support” (a bottle of Windex?) isn’t going mean diddly when put up against their breathtaking prices.

    But mostly I’m offended that they have the gall to call a 29×16 pixel array “HD” (yup, they really did that). Also, it’s RWL that they suggest using this as an enticement when “interviewing top candidates for a competitive engineering role”. No company with serious engineers is going to buy this thing when they could create their own personalized version in house, and no “top candidate” is going to be impressed by it.

    And now I suppose it’s time to go rant elsewhere.

  5. The rotary encoder inputs are crap UI design. Who wants to spend hours twiddling little dials to get just the color you want. They even had to speed up the video so we didn’t fall asleep watching it.

    However I have a solution, like I always do. NFC. Just have a little UI on your phone with a slider that sets the color, then tap the pixels you want to make that color. Send the check to…

    But in the end I agree this this is the fondue pot of display walls – use maybe once or twice than more trouble than it’s worth.

    DougM

    1. Methinks you’ve completely missed the point of the design, which is not efficiency.

      I use my fondue pot rather regularly, being a cheese addict. I also make Asian-style hotpots (much more trouble than fondue) fairly often. If you’d like to come share them while enjoying some serious LED lightshow porn, then send your check to…

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