LED wristbands are now a common feature of large arena concerts and events, with a variety of capabilities and technical implementations. In the video after the break, Wall Street Journal does a fascinating deep dive into these wearable light shows.
The three main control technologies are IR light, RF radios, and Bluetooth. The IR-controlled ones are the simplest, and we’ve covered a teardown, a reverse engineering effort and reflash of the Pixmob IR armbands.
Finally, we get a good behind-the-scenes look at how they are controlled. Using pan-tilt IR emitters mounted on lighting towers, the operators can sweep across the audience controlling color and light levels or activating pre-programmed sequences.
RF armbands have the simplest control setup, only requiring a single portable transmitter connected to a computer running the control software. It does however require some pre-planning for more complex light displays, to ensure each section of the audience is individually addressable.
The most advanced and expensive versions are handheld light sticks controlled via Bluetooth from an app on the users smartphone, and are popular at K-Pop concerts. Each device is linked to the users seat number, making them individually addressable and allowing the lighting operators to produce complex patterns, and even text, in the crowd.
While each of these devices is simple and underwhelming on its own, tens of thousands working together produce impressive effects and probably hide some hard-earned engineering experience.
[Louise Katzovitz] has created a light-up jacket in the style of the jacket worn by Michael Jackson in the 1983 music video for “Thriller”. [Louise Katzovitz]’s Thriller jacket is the perfect example of combining sewing hacks and electronic hacks to make an awesome, wearable jacket.
A bomber jacket was used as the base form to layer on the sequins and LED strips. Instead of bands of metal studs, [Louise] used WS2812B 60 pixels/m LED strips. 3D-printed transparent PLA “gems” were placed on top of the LEDs to mimic the form of the metal studs in the original jacket and provide diffusion for the underlying LEDs.
Each LED strip was laid out on a piece of vinyl strip. Then, a top layer of vinyl was cut to allow each of the LEDs to poke through, with the 3D printed gems super-glued on top. The assembled LED bands are attached to the jacket by Velcro with the wiring fed behind the lining material, which can be removed easily via small hooks. The whole thing is driven by an Arduino Nano and a 5 V power bank.
With the details and process worked out, [Louise] even made a tiny version of the jacket for her dog. We’ve featured LED wearables and fashion before and [Louise]’s jacket is a great addition. These projects are perfect for anyone who wants to wow their friends this upcoming Halloween season. Video after the break!
Some neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, can cause muscle tremors which can get worse as time goes along. In the beginning it may not be too difficult to manage, but as the disease progresses the tremors get worse and worse, until day-to-day movements are extremely difficult. Even picking up a fork or pouring a glass of water becomes nearly impossible. Some helpful tools have been designed to limit the impacts of the tremors, but this new device seeks to dampen the tremors directly.
A research team from Fresno State has been developing the Tremelo, which is a hand stabilizer that straps onto the arm of a person suffering from tremors. It has sets of tuned mass dampers in each of two enclosures, which rapidly shift the weights inside to counter the motion of the wearer’s tremors. The device has already shown success in 36 trial patients and does an incredible job at limiting the amount of tremors the user experiences, and also has a bonus of being non-invasive for the wearer.
The team has successfully trialed the program, but is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo. The project seems worthwhile and is a novel approach to a common problem. In the past, devices (admittedly with a much cheaper price tag) try to solve the problem externally rather than in the direction that the Tremelo has gone, and it’s a unique idea that shows a lot of promise.
Researchers in Japan have created a 3-micrometer display that looks like plastic wrap and can make any part of your skin into an electronic display. The idea isn’t new, but this display is far thinner and more durable than previous devices. It also lasts longer (several days) and has increased brightness.
The display uses polymer LEDs to form a seven-segment digit, so you aren’t going to stream Netflix to the back of your hand anytime soon. However, the team wants to build more advanced displays that could one day replace smartwatch or smartphone screens.
She’s always been fascinated by fiber optics and the effect they create, so she wanted to try using them in a project, and this was just the ticket. The tricky part was figuring out how best to couple cheap fiber optic strands off eBay with a strip of RGB LEDs.
In the end she figured out a way to make rudimentary fiber optic coupling joints using vinyl tubing. She managed to fit 17 strands of 0.5mm diameter fiber into a 6mm diameter vinyl tube. To improve light transfer when it’s all together, you can gently melt the ends of the fiber optics together to glaze the plastic into a single clear surface — don’t melt the vinyl though!