No monkey business here! The WavyWand uses LEDs to draw images and messages of light in mid air; concerts, sport events, Burning man...
What is the WavyWand?
The WavyWand is a programmable hand held device that is capable of displaying images and messages in mid air.
Similar to the “light streaks” that one perceives when waving around a sparkler at night, the WavyWand draws these images and messages by turning on and off LEDs as the wand is waved from side to side.
What makes it work?
The simple answer is “persistence of vision” but what is it?
No monkey business here! The human eye has the ability to “remember” what it saw for a split second after it saw it. This is especially evident with high contrast images like a bright sparkler flame against a dark night sky. When images like these are viewed in quick succession, your eyes will merge what they saw over a short period of time, similar to a camera with a long open shutter. In the sparkler picture above, for example, there are not actually lines of light but because the camera captured the light point in many different positions over a period of time, the combination of these light points make the light look like continuous lines in the air.
If we take time snapshots of what LEDs are turned on at different intervals as a WavyWand is drawing the heart above, we can see that at any given moment only the LEDs that correspond to a single line of the picture are illuminated.
Thanks to your eyes’ ability to remember and merge the sequence of lines, you can see a heart.
What can the WavyWand display?
The WavyWand interprets images similarly to other display devices that have pixel height and width. Phones, for example, that might have screens with pixel dimensions 320 x 240 can display images up to that size. The WavyWand’s pixel height is fixed and corresponds to the 48 LEDs along its length. The width however is not fixed and mostly depends on how wide the wand is waved from side to side. To understand this better, we need to look a bit closer at how the WavyWand works.
The LED lights on the wand are roughly 3mm high. This means the “pixel” height is roughly 3mm. For images to appear at the correct aspect ratio, we want the pixel width to also be about 3mm. Since the LEDs are moving from side to side, the pixel width is determined by how long an LED is turned on for as it is in motion. In other words, if we want a pixel width of 3mm the LED needs to be turned on for as long as it takes the LED to move 3mm through the air along the arc of the wave.
One might think that waving a wand from side to side is simple stuff but surprisingly, every person will do it slightly differently. Finding the correct timing on the WavyWand required some experimentation and measuring the average “wave time” of many different people.
Each WavyWand has a motion sensor and a micro controller, a tiny computer, that controls every individual LED. When the wand is waved from side to side, the computer measures the time it takes the wand to move from the one edge of the wave to the opposite edge of the wave. That length of time is then divided up into the number of pixels for the image width. The average user has a wave large enough to display an image 80 to 100 pixels wide.
In conclusion, the WavyWand can display anything imaginable that can be drawn in a 48 x 100 pixel image. Like the K for Kickstarter.
Programming the WavyWand
The WavyWand has three push-buttons and an alphabet printed next to the LED display that are all used together to compose messages on the spot. More complicated images and animations can be programmed from a computer. Easy to use software allows most images to be imported and programmed onto a WavyWand. Depending on their size, the WavyWand can store several images, animations and messages that can each be selected and displayed.
Some technical details
The WavyWand is made from ABS plastic. The lens that covers the LEDs is clear acrylic. The wand is 42.5cm long and about 3cm wide at the handle. As mentioned before, there are 48 Light Emitting Diodes. The WavyWand is powered by three AAA batteries that are easily replaceable by removing the cover form the back of the handle. The programming cable connector is also located behind the battery cover. As a bonus, the WavyWand also has a built-in LED flashlight at the tip of the wand's display. More information about the WavyWand and how to use it is available on our website.
With your help we would like to bring the WavyWand back (with a few improvements of course!) With enough pledges we can get the production quantities up and the costs down. We will be using some of the funds to set up the manufacturing line and updating the design as needed, but the majority will be going directly towards the product and getting it out to you!
There are two changes that we are planning on making to the design:
• More efficient LEDs
• Built-in support for a mini USB programming cable to replace the current custom cable
There are constantly newer types of LEDs being manufactured that are brighter and more efficient than the last. Using these types of LEDs will give the WavyWand a brighter display and a longer battery life.
The inventor of the now commonly used USB, Ajay Bhatt, was recently interviewed on CNN. During the interview, they mentioned that there is estimated to be over a billion USB devices in use today. This is great news for the WavyWand because it means it is now less costly to buy micro controllers with built-in USB support. The WavyWand will be one more of these many devices that connects to a computer via the commonly used USB cable.
WareArt pledges: During manufacturing each WavyWand is pre-programmed with several animations, images and text messages. On the first model we focused the WaveArt around themes from some of the major public holidays such as Halloween and 4th of July. This time around, we thought it would be great to get suggestions from the Kickstarter community. We are, therefore, going to make it part of our pledge rewards. For the respective WaveArt pledges we will accept from you one suggestion for a text message, image or animation. We realize that there will be more suggestions than what we can fit onto the WavyWand so we will send out all the suggestions and allow people to vote for their favorites. Each WaveArt pledge will also receive one of these awesome WavyWand carabiner keyholders.
WavyWand pledges: With all the LEDs available today there are many colors to choose from but unfortunately we have to limit what we manufacture to just a few in order to make it cost effective. We will be using yellow, red and green LEDs. Each WavyWand pledge will receive a WavyWand with their choice of yellow, red or green LEDs. By pledging a few dollars more, WavyWand+ pledges will also receive a programming cable with your WavyWand.
Kickstarter pledges: On this special Kickstarter occasion we can’t resist going for the blue! For those who would like a WavyWand that is just that much cooler, we are going to manufacture a limited number of wands with blue LEDs.
Custom WavyWand pledges: We’ve heard of so many different ways in which people have used WavyWands in the past that we would like to keep the creativity flowing by offering this custom WavyWand pledge category. For this pledge we will customize and you will receive a dozen WavyWands as a set with your choice of images, animations and messages. You can be as creative as you wish. We can customize them with your company logo, or team mascot. Someone’s name for a surprise birthday party. Take some to Burning Man. How about at graduation?
Q: Have any of the above photos been edited?
A: Only the “Time snapshots” photos have be modified from the original to show how the LEDs change over time.
Q: In the large photo of the heart, why is the hand and the Wavy Wand not more blurry?
A: The camera shutter speed was set very slow to capture the entire heart. The flash was set to go off just before the shutter closed. This allowed us to capture the hand and the Wavy Wand. One can actually still see some of the background reflections in the water visible through the hand.
Q: In the photos of the heart, why does it look like there is a light streak above the image?
A: These photos where taken with the built-in flashlight turned on. Similar to the sparkler photo above, the flashlight moving through the air appears like a continuous line of light.
Q: Who made your video?
A: HYPERFOX, a company located in Poland that does video production, animation and motion design work.
Q: Are we kicking it forward?
A: Absolutely, check out what it's all about at http://kickingitforward.org
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The WavyWand was designed and developed by Robert Batten, Tyler Shaw and Adriaan Smit in 2005 and introduced at the NYC toy show in February of 2006. Interest was high but costs were also high and ultimately prevented forward momentum. Check out prior press releases on the WavyWand website.
As described above, we now have access to much more technology and a bigger variety of parts to choose from. No more compromising on features in order to stay on budget! We have also gained a lot more experience with sourcing manufacturing in China and taking products through the development phase. This puts us in an excellent position to manufacture this next version of the WavyWand.
We look forward to receiving your pledges and getting a WavyWand out to you ASAP.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.