Hi! We are Gerry Gilligan and Jason Balcauski, the founders of Austin Bright Light Design and the makers of the Firefly Cloak. Thank you for checking out our Kickstarter!
We created the Firefly Cloak as a natural follow up to our work on LED art installations that used individually addressable LEDs, custom controllers and infinity mirrors. Our plan was to create the most outrageous costume we could imagine, then fit it with a portable version of the advanced LEDs and electronics used in our installations to create dynamic wearable art. Our early prototypes evoked countless smiles from strangers and broke down social barriers, leading to more friendships and fun. It’s hard not to say hello to someone lit up and wearing a Firefly Cloak!
We are launching this Kickstarter so others can get in on the fun and spread joy of their own! If successful, we plan to offer additional designs and lighting effects in collaboration with other artists and electronics gurus willing to help out.
I’ve seen lighted costumes before. What’s so special about the Firefly Cloak?
There are primarily two types of lighted clothing available in the market: elaborate one-off custom pieces usually seen on stage costing thousands of dollars, and simple lighted fur costumes using single color, “dumb” red/green/blue (RGB) LEDs or electroluminescent (EL) wire. The Firefly Cloak has many of the features of the custom LED costume - and has been used on stage - but at a fraction of the cost and in a design that welcomes movement and dancing!
- Custom designed, addressable “smart” WS2811 LEDs
- Over 300 pre-programmed effects Easy to use remote control
- Adjustable timing
- Pair with multiple Firefly Cloaks to sync lighting effects (40’ radius)
- Holographic sequins
- 6000mAh lithium ion battery pack with 5V USB to double as phone charger
- Custom laser engraved Firefly clasp
- Breathable materials with high performance wicking liner
- Discreet hidden pocket
- Hand holds for uninhibited dancing
- Professionally engineered for comfort and performance
- Firefly drawstring backpack to transport and store your cloak
Standard LEDs are ‘dumb’ - they change colors and blink all together. Our LEDs are much smarter than that!
Austin Bright Light Design™ “Smart” LEDs (WS2811) can be programmed like a pixels on a television screen. Addressable LEDS allow the user to activate over 300 pre-programmed lighting effects from the included remote control: chases, rainbow pulse, dripping water, blue lagoon, sunburst surprise (Ok, we made up the names as we went along, but you get the idea!) ABLD™ “Smart” LED strips are custom designed and made to our specifications to hold up to the rigors of use in the Firefly Cloak. We use a strengthened PCB, modified insulation and added heat shrink to minimize the chance of breakage.
Holographic sequins have holograms embedded in the surface. This gives the sequins extra sparkle from any direction even in low light. High quality, anti-MOOP fabric keeps the sequins secure and helps prevent unintentional sequin litter.
The 12V 6000mAh power features UL Listed cells and can last from 4 - 20 hours depending on user operation. Included is a 2 amp 5V USB port allowing the power supply to double as a phone charger so your phone doesn’t die mid-show.
We use a breathable, wicking material similar to what is used in performance running and cycling clothing to line the Firefly Cloak. This helps make the Firefly comfortable to wear in even the warmest conditions.
Professional engineers using Computer Aided Design (CAD) helped us to develop an exclusive pattern and support system to evenly distribute weight across the shoulders, not the neck.
The Firefly Cloak also includes a discreet hidden pocket for holding your valuables while you shine, and hand-hold straps for uninhibited dancing.
The Firefly is sized to “fit most”. It will fit people from 4’11” and taller. The maximum neck size is 19”. It is not designed or intended for children.
Over the last year, we have worked with professional clothing designers and seamstresses in Austin to improve the cloaks and renamed it, “Firefly Cloak”. We used high performance materials including unique holographic sequins, a breathable, wicking liner and special faux fur that diffuses light from the LEDs in a dazzling way. Thought was put into an even weight distribution for people from 4'11" and taller, so wearing the cloak is unobtrusive and comfortable. The electronics package has been vastly improved to include 300 pre-programmed lighting effects, dimming, and the ability to sync light patterns with other nearby Firefly Cloaks. Today, that includes any cloaks that are within forty feet of a synced remote control!
With each successive generation of the Firefly Cloak, we plan on updating and altering the fabrics and materials that are used based on themes, time of year, upcoming festivals and holidays. ABLD will be working with artists, painters, graphic designers, graffiti artists and others to bring their designs to life on our clothing. We would love to connect with you if you are creative, so please send us a message via our social media channels. With each generation of cloaks, our customers will truly be receiving limited edition art pieces that may never be duplicated again! With your help and a successful crowdfunding campaign behind us, we plan to offer an array of lighted costumes and accessories that share a similar electronics package and features. Our goal is to offer high quality products that can truly be en-“ABLD” throughout a venue to show the glow in your soul, all at an approachable price point.
To One-2-One Bar in Austin, TX for providing us with a location to shoot our video and a creative space for our community. To our friend Kendra Rose who sewed the very first Cloaks. To our models: Amanda Shaftel, Christina Kuhlmann, Ryan Leman, Jillian McCann, Son Nguyen, Michelle Simpson. Thanks to our rockstar friends: Kevin Russell of Shinyribs, A Live One, Graveltooth, Trouble in the Streets and HeartByrne. To our collaborators: Dustin & Evan Bozarth at AIRSHP, Mountain Trout Photography, Jamey Simmons, Andrew Hall at the Hippie House, Nga Keith of Bluebonnet Cut and Sew, Tina and Ester of Whitestar Manufacturing, John Hoeffleur at Panic Buttonz, Cobih at Facebook.
Risks and challenges
After building multiple prototypes, we enlist professional designers and engineers to help perfect our designs and put them into formats for manufacturing (patterns, CAD designs, Tech Packs, electronics specs etc). Those designs are shared with manufacturers for pricing, tooling and sample production. Once samples are returned, we measure and test each sample to ensure they meet our quality standards and specifications. While a sample may pass our inspection, a production run item may not. We plan to use internationally certified quality inspectors to inspect the components of the Firefly™ cloak, but there is a risk that one or more the components for our first production run could fail to meet our specifications and lead to delay.
We are using a qualified Customs Agent to assist with US Customs processing, taxes and tariffing. Our agent advised us that the uniqueness of our product (even US Customs may think it’s unique!) may lead to questions by US Customs on how to classify it for taxes, tariff and import quota purposes. While not expected, the need for a US Customs ruling (to decide the tariff classification) could delay shipment by several weeks.
Environmental, Labor and Safety Audits/Factory Shut Downs
We seek out factories with internationally recognized certification for worker safety, environmental compliance and child labor prohibition. These factories are all subject to surprise audits by the certifying organizations and the government. If conditions are found lacking as the result of an audit or other means, a factory may be shut down for an indeterminate amount of time until the conditions are corrected. While we will have back up manufacturers to step in if necessary, the small size of our first production run, tooling and material acquisition time could lead to delays.
Lithium Ion Batteries
Our use of lithium ion polymer battery packs has its own set of challenges both in importing and use in the countries that we would like to sell to. We use batteries with UL listed cells, overcharge protection and CE and RoHS certification. We will only be shipping to the US to start, but we hope to expand worldwide as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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