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Faludi on BBC LIVE: Digi & Connecting Light

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The BBC News interviewed me live, explaining the Digi technology behind YesYesNo’s Connecting Light art installation for London Festival 2012’s Cultural Olympiad. We’re on the edge of a craggy cliff about halfway along the installation of 400 huge interactive weather balloons that are illuminated in different colors by text messages sent from people around the world. I’m explaining how Programmable XBees and the Digi Device Cloud make that possible. And although you don’t see them in the live shot, we are entirely surrounded by sheep:

Connecting Light System Diagram

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Here’s how the Connecting Light system is created from Digi equipment for the 73-mile-long installation of 400 giant illuminated balloons on Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. The huge network will go live tonight for an crowd expected to bring traffic along the 80-mile World Heritage site to a crawl as thousands of spectators flock to the interactive event. Connecting Light is a perfect example of a large-scale system for centrally controlling remote devices—the same advanced infrastructure that hospitals use to monitor patient ventilators, infusion pumps or dialysis machines, and that forward-thinking power utilities use to network their entire grid.

The technology required for Connecting Light was assembled by Digi Professional Services—our solutions experts who network dynamic message signs along highways, smart thermostats for utility networks and positive train control systems for railroads. Putting all these different devices online is arguably the next big revolution for the Internet. Organizations are starting to demand visibility to their remote assets along with centralized control for everything out in the field as their competitors begin benefitting from the systems currently being put in place. It’s an exciting time to be involved with this stuff!

The diagram above shows how Programmable XBees, ConnectPort GSM mobile routers and the iDigi Device Cloud all work together to form a reliable backbone behind a breathtaking artwork that spans England’s coasts.


Technology for Connected Art Exhibits a Model for Innovative Business

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We’ve been sharing a lot of information about Connecting Light, the art installation that will span the length (73 miles) of Hadrian’s Wall in England. The project is certainly exciting and inspirational, but a truly amazing aspect of the project is the sweeping scope of the technology used.

The same Digi International technology used to create the communications network that transmits audience-generated messages represented as pulses of brightly colored light over 73 miles is also used to create networks that save lives and protect business assets.

Connecting Light is driven by Digi International’s iDigi Device Cloud, Programmable XBee radios and ConnectPort X4 cellular gateways. Digi Professional Services helped to design the network architecture as an Internet of Things solution.

How the Technology Works for Connecting Light

Audience members can send text messages to the Connecting Light application which lives on the iDigi Device Cloud. The iDigi Device Cloud sends those messages to ConnectPort X4 cellular gateways which then “speak” to specific balloons filled with Programmable XBee Radios along the wall. The artists can then easily monitor each balloon’s status and manage the light patterns through the Connecting Light Web site, and spectators can control the balloons with their mobile phones.


How the Technology Creates Business Solutions

Connecting Light is a perfect example of centrally controlling remote devices. As with Connecting Light, Digi creates systems for businesses that allow anyone with an Internet or cellular connection to communicate with a remote device. For example, it’s the same advanced infrastructure that hospitals use to monitor patient ventilators, infusion pumps or dialysis machines, and that forward-thinking power utilities use to network their entire grid.

The system was assembled by Digi Professional Services team in the same way they connect dynamic message signs along highways, smart thermostats for utility networks and patient monitoring devices for assisted living facilities.


The iDigi Device Cloud is available free to anyone, for up to 5 devices. So, what are you waiting for? You can sign up for iDigi here.

See what people are saying about the much-anticipated art installation, Connecting Light, here.

iDigi & XBee to Power the World’s Longest Work of Art: Connecting Light

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We’ve been excitedly sharing updates about Connecting Light here on the iDigi Blog, Twitter and Facebook. But, just in case you haven’t heard, the iDigi Device Cloud and XBee will power Connecting Light, the art installation that will turn 73-mile Hadrian’s Wall into the world’s longest work of art.

As the presentation of Connecting Light grows closer [Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1], here’s what a few others are saying about the installation: 

“Founder member Zachary Lieberman said: ‘We are imagining a reverse wall – an inverse of the border. The border was built to separate people, and we want to bring them together again.'”

The Telegraph – London 2012 Festival: Hadrian’s Wall becomes ‘world’s longest artwork’


“The balloons will be fitted with lights and networked so they can communicate with one another [via XBee Radios]. Viewers will be able to submit short messages which will be transformed into pulses of colored light that pass along the wall in patterns reminiscent of Morse Code.”

San Francisco Chronicle — Balloons to Transform Hadrian’s Wall into Artwork


“Hadrian’s Wall has been the traditional boundary between England and Scotland ever since it was built by the Romans in the second century A.D. This 73-mile long structure was once the northernmost limit of the Roman Empire.”

Gadling — Hadrian’s Wall to be Turned into World’s Longest Work of Art


“Zachary Lieberman, artist, said: ‘Our concept is to create a digital platform by which messages can be communicated the entire length of the wall. The goal is to understand the wall in a modern context and imagine the wall not as a barrier but as a bridge, as a means of connecting rather than dividing. People will be able to interact at sites along the wall and as well as all over the world through the internet.'”

Arts Council England – Floating beacons to illuminate Hadrian’s Wall for London 2012 Festival


Get Involved:

You can send your own message by answering a prompt or creating your own on the Connecting Light website.  You can also check out updates directly from the Connecting Light team on their blog. Our team is officially on the ground in England to help deploy the installation, so we’ll be sharing real-time information here on the iDigi blog, on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as well.

The Ultimate XBee iDigi Project: Connecting Light on Hadrian’s Wall in Celebration of the London 2012 Olympics

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We’re excited to announce our participation in a major art installation for the London 2012 Festival in celebration of the 2012 Olympics. If you took part in the XBee Knowledge Forum last week, you may have heard our brief (and sly) mention of a special project. Now, we’re ready to tell the rest of the world. New York based artists YesYesNo, including Zachary Lieberman and Molmol Kuo, are creating “Connecting Light” an art installation that will span the length of 73 mile-long Hadrian’s Wall across the north of England, one of the most significant structures of the Roman Empire. The art installation, which will reach local, national and international audiences will take place August 31-September 1.

Using a series of tethered balloons lit by internal LED lights, the installation will become a line of pulsating colors. The changing colors will use the iDigi Device Cloud along with over 400 Digi Programmable XBees and around 20 ConnectPort X4 gateways to respond to text messages sent across the wall by audience members. As the London Festival put it, these interactions will “transform what was once a protective border into a line of communication.”

The installation will be visible in the evening and accessible to visitors at several locations along the wall. No need to worry if you don’t plan on traveling to London. Connecting Light will be viewable remotely all over the world through digital media. Messages sent across the wall can be seen on smartphones, iPads and tablets and detailed information will be available at a number of visitor sites along Hadrian’s wall and on Websites including our own.

The installation is currently being prototyped by YesYesNo with Digi team members, Rob Faludi and Jordan Husney, who were there to help setup a prototype last week. This is the first sneak peak of the project– enjoy!


Wearable Tech: Projects and People to Know

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Technology: it’s not just robots and computer parts. It’s getting more and more personal, and wearable tech is beginning to play a prominent role in both the tech world and fashion industry. Here’s a list of projects and people that make for an awesome introduction to the world of wearable tech.


Beating Heart Headband
The Beating Heart Headband uses a heartrate sensor and perfboard Arduino to flash a heart-shaped LED display to the rhythm of your heart.

Google’s Project Glass and Oakley Glasses
Google and Oakley are creating technology that can project information directly onto lenses– an experimental effort to build smartphone features into eyewear.

The Intelligent Cycling Jacket
Combining intelligent materials like water resistant, breathable organic cotton and flexible LED circuits, Sporty Supaheroe is an intelligent cycling jacket that promises to keep cyclists both safe and comfortable on the road.

Will.i.am Video Jacket
During the latest Black Eyed Peas tour, singer Will.I.Am sported a hand tailored jacket made by Hardy Amis’ master taylor Jan Cicmanec and completely covered in an LED video system. The jacket is capable of displaying animations at video speed from a built in SD card.

You can see more wearable tech projects including Adidas Megalizer, Proximity-Sensing Pocket Squares and Party in the Mouth on the XBee Project Gallery.


LadyAda (Limor Fried) of Adafruit Industries
Adafruit on Twitter
Limor Fried, Founder of Adafruit Industries, is a MIT trained engineer. She is the first female engineer on WIRED magazine’s cover, named one of the “Most influential Women in Technology” by Fast Company and the winner of an EFF pioneer award for teaching and sharing electronics.

She has been featured in hundreds of publications and media around the world. Adafruit was started in 2005, Limor’s goal is to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Since then, Adafruit has grown to over 25 employees in the heart of NYC.

Syuzi Pakhchyan
Syuzi Pakhchyan on Twitter
Syuzi Pakhchyan is a fashion technologist with a fetish for beautiful code and conductive cloth. She’s an experience designer whose work investigates the intersection between code, cloth and culture. Her design and research interests include wearable technologies, physical and soft computing, and interactive textile design. Her book “Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting“ explores the emerging creative practice of soft circuits and soft technologies.

Steve Mann
Steven Mann, the author of Wearable Computing, is a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. Mann holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McMaster University, where he was also inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Hall of Fame, Alumni Gallery, 2004, in recognition of his career as an inventor and teacher. While at MIT he was one of the founding members of the Wearable Computers group in the Media Lab.

Diana Eng
Diana Eng  Twitter
Educated at RISD in apparel design, Diana Eng started her career as a designer on Bravo’s Project Runway, Season 2. Diana worked as an assistant designer at Generra but left the company to pursue a career working with more experimental fashion. She found her niche in Victoria’s Secret research and development department. The department created new innovation for mass market.

In 2009, Eng received a grant from Rhizome and an artist residency from Eyebeam Art and Technology Center to create fashion prototypes using laser cutters, 3-d printers, and electronics for her educational program FairytaleFashion.org. Diana started her ready-to-wear line Diana Eng in 2010, and continues working to bring new innovation in fashion to market.

Love wearable tech? Follow our Wearable Tech board on Pinterest.

Know someone or something that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter.

XBee Internet Gateway at O’Reilly’s Strata Big Data Conference

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Brian Jepson used the XBee Internet Gateway running on a Digi ConnectPort to create a distributed voting system to compile feedback from a wine tasting event at O’Reilly Media’s Strata big data conference in Santa Clara, California. The WineShade manages all the data acquisition and display for  Coco Krumme‘s Data Crush: Where Wine and Data Meet.

“This new event at Strata hosted wine tastings for participants, whose feedback data was compiled and analyzed to extrapolate behavioral trends and factors influencing their responses. At the event, we had several stations set up with different types of wine. It was your basic taste test, where the brands were concealed, and the architect of the experiment (Coco) used various methods to influence responses. After the participants drank the wine, they were instructed to proceed to the WineShade voting station and press the button whose label corresponded to the wine they just drank. As the experiment proceeded, the votes were tallied on a central server.”

Because the voting stations were distributed throughout the event, each station needed a way to talk to a central server. Brian used Digi’s XBee modules, and the XBee Internet Gateway (XIG) on a Digi ConnectPort X2, to move data from the XBee network directly to his web servers. The XIG can also talk to the iDigi cloud directly.

You can read the full project description on the MAKE Magazine blog.

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