Dancing LEDs Promise Merriment at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Imagine with us the following holiday utopia – call it a holopia: You hang LED holiday lights on your house or tree or mother-in-law. You snap a picture with your phone. An app recognizes the distribution of bulbs. And now you can map anything you want onto this imperfect LED grid, from sound sync that pulses along with your thumping holiday tunes, to groovy smooth fades through the rainbow, to scrolling holiday messages, to – be still my beating heart! – a never-ending repeat of Nyan Cat!

That’s the promise of Jarrod Eliason’s Dancing LEDs. Among other projects, Jarrod programmed his home tree to sing along in Santa face to his family’s recording of “We wish you a maker Christmas and a hacker New Year” (above). In fact, this is more than a utopia — at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1 Jarrod will be in Colorado making this utopia a reality. Seriously: stop by the Dancing LEDs booth, download the free app, and you too can drive strings of LEDs as they and you make merriment for all.

“What we’re doing is taking any video or animated GIF, running it through a Windows program to turn it into a light sequence, and then remapping it from the video onto lights,” Eliason says.

He says the current prototype is based on a triangular display, because he didn’t have a good rectangular space on the side of his house. Eliason imagines cities leaving the displays up year-round and changing the colors based on the season. And plugging in a floor display of Dancing LEDs still in their boxes – customers download a free app and right there in the store can interact with the LEDs or project a picture of their face onto the display. And businesses using them to replace existing, four-sided LED displays.

For now, “It’s kind of in the beginning stages,” Eliason says. “I’ve got prototypes on my desk, developers working on the app. But we expect to have things to put in people’s hands in the next week.”

Eliason runs it with a Teensy board and once he gets schematics and code, he plans to open-source the whole thing. And he’s looking for comments, suggestions, tweaks and hacks. In other words: Makers needed!