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Luminance, an Arduino compatible hardware platform to enable anyone to easily explore interactive illumination.

Luminance, an Arduino compatible hardware platform to enable anyone to easily explore interactive illumination. Read more
pledged of $42,000 goal

About this project


Let there be light! 

Programmable, controllable, motion reactive light - doing your bidding and accentuating your every movement.

Welcome to my Kickstarter project. I hope that you will be as excited about the possible applications of the Luminance platform as I am about designing and building it. Luminance is the core of a reactive lighting system that will make developing reactive lighting not just possible but easy and accessible to anyone. Luminance makes the step from inspiration to implementation simple while still serving as a platform for extended hacking, well beyond its base functionality.

How it Started

The concept was spawned at a club by a cheap disposable flashing light that happened to have a fiber optic plume stuck on the end. I was dancing with the strobe in my hand, watching the light trails and found that the strobe would occasionally sync up with the beat of the music. I was loving the effect of the visual elements perfectly complementing the ambient sound. I found myself mesmerized by it until the point that the random flashing lost sync with the music and went back to being just a blinky light. My thought was to add an accelerometer to synchronize the strobing to my movement which would (in theory) synchronize the strobe with the beat  of the music.

How it Got Here

While the initial goal was just to build a simple sensor into a strobe after sharing the idea with the members of my hacker space ( it was quickly expanded upon and improved. With ideas and applications formed in the crucible of hacking, making and innovation that is Crashspace, the Luminance platform turned into so much more and I thank all of my friends and fellow hackers for their input, inspiration and support.

The initial prototype was built using an Arduino, accelerometer, RGB LED and the original fiber optic plume from the club. Then someone suggested that it could be programmed to "wave out" the colors of the rainbow. This lead to an exploration of the intersection between color space and the motion sensed by the accelerometer. Prototyping continued with a variety of Arduino boards, brainstorming and exploring the sensing possibilities (accelerometer, gyro, thermal, mic) and different types of light output (RGB LED, single color LEDS, strips of high voltage LEDs, strips of individually addressable LEDs, smart LEDs systems like the BlinkM). It quickly became clear that this system deserved to be so much more and was really the core of a development platform allowing anyone interested in the interaction of movement and light, to explore applications of reactive lighting. That I already found myself re-purposing the base platform components to explore new applications of the technology drove that point home.

This Kickstarter project was created as the next step in development of the Luminance platform, bringing together the support and resources to design and manufacture the core components of the Luminance system. This project will generate the base components to enable a rapid transition from concept to implementation of reactive lighting systems in the manner that an Arduino development platform is ideally suited. The rewards for this project will be the necessary components ready to immediately be incorporated in your projects.

Things to Try

Truly limitless!

Possibility 1: Just open the box and switch it on. All rewards that are shipped will be preprogrammed as reactive systems straight out of the box. Take the sound reactive system straight out of the box, switch it on, set it on the table (or better yet on a speaker) and watch it react to to the music.

Possibility 2: Take it to the next step and easily update the behavior. No need to write the code yourself since examples will be available for download. Grab the Arduino development environment (following simple instruction that will be provided to download and installing it), grab one of the example sketches, plug in the USB cable and drop it on the device.

Hosting a party for Halloween, grab an example with lots of orange and red responses, put it in the middle of the table and watch a light show created by the sounds of Halloween. Examples will be posted with suggestions on cool uses for them.

Want to spin Poi but concerned about lighting the curtains on fire, swap the spectrum shield for an accelerometer shield, drop the motion reactive "fire" sketch onto the device, tie on cords and start spinning. Watch the "fire" respond to the motion, flaring up and dying down. Try them all and find the ones you like best.

Possibility 3: Hack the software to do your bidding. Using the examples as a starting point or starting from scratch you can make the system react to movement or sound in any way that you can imagine. It is, after all, an Arduino compatible system meaning that it is designed and super easy to hack the code. If you have not used an Arduino before this is a great way to start, you will likely be surprised at how it makes "complicated" microcontroller development easy and accessible. 

Possibility 4: Hack the hardware, hack the software, pwn the system. Start with the prototyping board or rework the others. Explore the obvious applications of the Luminance Platform to illuminated motion reactive clothing. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, dream of an application, grab the hardware and make it come to life. Simple, fast and easy reactive lighting development.


Beyond the obvious applications of the Luminance Development Platform, what really excites me, is the opening of doors to the exploration of the amazing things that can be easily achieved when a simple to use Arduino based microcontroller, a sensor and some LEDs are combined into a package that makes it trivially easy to get from inspiration to implementation. Luminance makes the development of reactive lighting systems not only possible but easy and accessible by anyone. The applications of the Luminance development platform are numerous and I look forward to the amazing applications that others will come from the community that extend far beyond anything that I can even start to envision.

Throughout this kickstart, I will post video updates showing interesting applications using the Luminance Platform prototypes. I hope they will spawn ideas for applications of the Luminance Development System to possible projects and show the types of projects that it will enable for you. Check back thorough out the kickstart to see more of the things that the Luminance system can do.

The Technical Bits

At it's core the Luminance platform is a fully Arduino compatible platform. Add to that carefully designed sensing and output shields designed to interface both electrically and mechanically with the main board.

Mechanical Stack

The  Hardware Bits 

The Arduino compatible main board:

  • ATmega328 running at 8MHz with external resonator
  • Low-voltage board for interfacing with popular 3.3V sensors
  • Includes a 3.3V regulator to permit a single supply for the micro controller and feedback and LEDs
  • Designed with split voltage rails to safely interface the low voltage core with higher voltage peripherals.
  • Low quiescent current for ultra low power sleep, extending the lifetime of battery powered applications
  • Can sleep using almost no battery until wake up and only then drive the high current things and only as long as needed

The accelerometer sensor shield:

  • Accelerometer with low sleep current and interrupt wake up
  • SPI, I2C and power brought out to support expansion with new sensors
  • Mechanical design to fit perfectly with the main board and output driver shield

The spectrum shield:

  • This shield features the MSGEQ7 graphic equalizer display filter chip
  • An audio (pre-amp) and on board microphone
  • A microphone input jack (bypassing the pre-amp)

The RGB LED output shield:

  • High power RGB LEDs
  • Matched current limiting resistors
  • Integrated FET drivers to switch the LEDs
  • Multiple SMT feedback LEDs around the edge of the board for use to show system state or complement the primary lighting

The FET power driver shield:

  • Multi channel FET drivers
  • Connections for external supply voltage and way to select internal or external power to drive the outputs
  • Multiple SMT feedback LEDs around the edge of the board for use to show system state or complement the primary lighting 
  • Can be used as a level translating output (to drive 12-15V LED strips or 5V individually addressable LED strips

The prototyping shield:

  • Perforated development shield
  • Connections for external supply voltages and a way to select internal or external power to wire up to the outputs 
  • Easily accessible power rail running across the board

Open Source Hardware

This is an open source project and all hardware will be open sourced at end of project. In addition to that I plan to go through the process of getting the hardware accepted as an official Arduino platform.

Per Arduino project policy, I will begin the discussion with the core Arduino development team as soon as the project kicks off to start the process of getting the hardware accepted as an official Arduino platform. Submit all necessary source code for supporting the platform for inclusion in the main Arduino code. Provide final hardware to the core Arduino team for validation that it functions to the standards expected of an Arduino platform. The hardware will be manufactured under fair labor conditions. If all goes well, I can update all the documentation from "Arduino compatible" to the "Arduino Luminance' platform.

While the 3D printed stand and mounting clips are only available during the kickstart, the designs will be posted on thingiverse (as agwn) as soon as the test prints are successful. The model will be designed to fit within as many of the working area of as many printers as possible be it a Makerbot, RepRap or another design.

Getting Things Early (aka. before Burningman)

Rewards at all levels be ship out in the order of that you put your support behind the project. I can guarantee that a minimum of 390 motion reactive kits will be produced in the initial production run. I will be doing everything within my power to ensure delivery of the initial motion reactive development kits with at least a month to spare prior to burning man. Back the project early to ensure delivery with time to spare for integrating with your Burningman reactive lighting clothing or projects.

As soon as this project hits its funding goal, I will be committed full time to the development of the Luminance platform. The sooner this happens prior to the end of the funding window the sooner the final kits will ship. Every day between the project hitting the funding goal and the end of the kickstart will be one day earlier that you will receive the rewards of this project.


Thanks you to all the members of CRASHspace for their inspiration and support. In particular fellow crasher Kyle for his work behind the camera. My good friend Sage for pulling the parts of the video together, filling the gaps and making it awesome. The music used found at the free music archive made by the artist c4.


  • Straight from

    Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

    I have chosen to make the Luminance platform Arduino compatible because my goal is for the development of reactive lighting systems to be just as easy and accessible to everyone.

    Last updated:
  • The programing of this platform will use the standard Arduino IDE, the hardware will have an Arduino bootloader so any existing Arduino sketch can be easily used on this platform.

    Last updated:
  • Arduino development is built around the idea that it should be possible for anyone to "sketch" out an idea and easily make it a reality. A sketch is an Arduino program. The most basic sketch has at least two parts setup() and loop(). As the names imply, setup() sets up the system and loop() just keeps on looping until you turn it off.

    Last updated:
  • In an Arduino system a shield is anything that stacks on top of the main board. The Luminance platform will initially have two types of shields, sensing and light output drivers. The shield stackup will be novel with the shields interleaved to fit within a cylinder to hopefully open up new applications of the Arduino platform.

    The sensing shields will include an accelerometer shield, an audio analyzer shield with others to be added in the future. Some other sensors I am looking at are a gyro to sense rotation, a MEMS compass and possibly a IMU with some combination of accel, gyro and possibly compass (this is called 9 axis sensing with 3 Sensors * 3 axis each and 10 axis if it includes barometric pressure).

    The light driver shields will include one with driver circuits and high power LEDs all on one board (feed into a fiber plume) and a FET power driver shield that can either be used to directly drive higher voltage (6-24V) LED strips or to interface with higher voltage logic like the addressable LED strips.

    Last updated:
  • RGBL Red, Green, Blue

    LED: Light Emitting Diode

    FET: Field Effect Transistor

    SPI: Serial Peripheral Interface bus

    I2C (I^2 C or IIC): Inter Integrated Circuit bus. Originally designed for communication between pieces of silicon inside a single package it turned out to work between packages as well (as long as you don't go to far).

    SMT: Surface Mount Technology (

    If there are any I missed please send me a message and I will add them.

    Last updated:
  • A system with split voltage rails is designed from day one to operate with different voltage levels within the system. The core of the system needs to run at low voltage to interface with the sensors but the really cool LEDs need higher voltage to do their thing. The solution is to design the system to keep the Arduino voltage completely separate from the LED voltage. This has a number of serious advantages when you use the system. First off the controller and sensor are completely separate from the LEDs so they can go into super low power sleep modes and only turn on the LEDs (and draw all of that current) when they should be on. This system is designed for exploring reactive lighting and one of the interesting things to do with it is have a system that can sit for weeks or months waiting for something to react to and only then start seriously draining the battery.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $4 or more About $4

    MORAL SUPPORT: Receive a personalized thank you card and be able to see the progress of the project. You will receive updates through kickstarter following successful funding but they are only available to the backers of the project. Thanks for supporting open source hardware and this project.

    Estimated delivery
    31 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $54 or more About $54

    CORE SUPPORT: Congratulations! You will be receiving the core Luminance development system. Including an Arduino compatible main board, your choice of an accelerometer sensor shield or spectrum analyzer shield, your choice of the FET driver shield or the RGB output shield and two prototyping shields. All the parts you need to build your motion or sound reactive lighting project. (Add $10 to ship to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

    Estimated delivery
    10 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $81 or more About $81

    FULL SPECTRUM SUPPORT: Be one of the first to receive a full Luminance system from the first run of production and save.

    Support at this level will be rewarded with sound reactive Luminance development kit. This includes the Arduino compatible main board, the spectrum shield, RGB LED shield coupled into a 15-20cm fiber optic plume built into an aluminum enclosure that can be used freestanding or held in ones hand and moved around. Only avaliable as part of the kickstarter, the first 50 backers at this level also get a Makerbot printed base to hold the entire system upright and stable. (Add $10 to ship to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

    Estimated delivery
    12 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $104 or more About $104

    TRULY MOVING SUPPORT: Receive the motion reactive Luminance development system. The Arduino compatible main board, the accelerometer sensor shield, the FET driver shield and a pigtail for an addressable LED strip all housed in a sealed aluminum cylinder. The reactive motion controller will connect to a one meter individually addressable LED led strip that I will look to source mounted on Velcro backing to make the development of reactive clothing trivially easy. In addition the first 50 backers at this level will receive a Makerbot printed holding clip (like what is used to hold a bike pump) to easily integrate the controller with your project. (Add $10 to ship to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)

    Estimated delivery
    8 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $156 or more About $156

    COMPLETE SUPPORT: Thank you for supporting all aspects of the Luminance project. In return for your support you will receive all produced components of the development platform. You will receive the main board, the accelerometer shield, the spectrum shield, the RGB LED shield, the FET power driver shield, two prototyping shields, the aluminum housing, fiber optic plume and one meter Velcro backed addressable LED strip. Mixing and matching from these parts enable exploration of all the possible applications of combinations of the Luminance development system. Available only during the kickstarter project, the first 50 supporters at this level will also get a choice of a Makerbot printed base for the sound reactive system or a mounting clip for use with the motion reactive one. Mixing in your own components will realize the goal of this project to provide the base system to be extended by your imagination into an amazing reactive lighting system.

    Estimated delivery
    59 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $198 or more About $198

    SPINNING SUPPORT: Receive TWO motion reactive Luminance development kits. These will be similar to the reward for FULL SPECTRUM SUPPORT but the sound reactive boards will be replaced with motion sensing. In addition this reward adds padding for the aluminum case, a harness to hold it and poi cords for spinning it.

    Estimated delivery
    3 backers
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Funding period

- (52 days)