About this project
First... a little about "Flow", and the history of Prodigy Hoops.
Flow Arts is a fast-growing fitness and meditation practice that blends play, exercise, and dance into a fun and healthful activity that moves the body, stills the mind, and uplifts the spirit. It’s a physical workout that is also a brain booster, a relaxing way to chill out, and a compelling performance art. The concept of Flow Arts is simple: learn to move in harmony with an inanimate object so that it becomes an animated extension of your body, then flow with it in ways that look and feel totally awesome.
The basic techniques are easy to pick up, but the adaptations are infinite, allowing for wide variation in personal style and expression. In the rapidly growing global Flow Arts community there is still ample opportunity to make and share novel discoveries. courtesy of www.flowtemple.org
This brief explanation of flow barely scratches the surface, and if this is your first exposure to the art form, I highly suggest taking a look at some of the sites below, as well as considering a Prodigy Hoop as a great prop to help begin your journey.
As I began my personal journey into the flow arts world I was immediately drawn to the LED smart props. For myself, the patterns and light trails created by these props added a completely new element to the art form that was mesmerizing. However, it didn't take long for that attraction to turn into frustration as I found myself repeatedly disappointed with the quality and features of these props, especially given that the average cost of a smart prop was well over $400. With a background in custom technology solutions, and years of work with LED art installations, I knew that so much more was possible.
Through countless conversations with others in the flow community, it became clear that I was not alone, and that there were a number of common desires and frustrations. It was these conversations, and a few successful prototypes, that eventually led to me leaving my full time job and dedicating 100% of my efforts to developing a series of smart props that were durable, hi-tech, and affordable. Along with a number of engineers, programmers, and performers, the Prodigy Protege Hoop was born. With all that said... it's time to check out all the features of this hoop!
Protege Hoop Features
- Over 150 LEDs in each hoop (depending on size)
20x faster then LED's used in most smart props
The Protege Hoop was created using the absolute best LED's available, and they make a HUGE difference! These LEDs operate at up to 20x faster than the ones used in most smart props. The result is crisp, clear, flicker & dot free trails that create stunning visuals.
Flow is all about movement, so I wanted motion detection to be part of the core system that generated all the visuals. The motion detection hardware chosen and the primary programming for movement detection in Prodigy Hoops are the same as the ones used to keep quad-copters and drones in the air. While motion based patterns are great, this was just touching the surface on what could be achieved with these sensors and the motion data. Here are some of the most exciting features utilizing motion detection.
Motion & Tap based menu system
The Protege introduces a one-of-kind motion and tap based menu system. Not only can you access every setting and menu option from the hoop itself, but the interface and control is extremely intuitive and takes just minutes to master.
Although the menu system is tap and movement based, a performer never needs to worry about accidentally triggering the menu system while performing.. The Protege constantly monitors the hoop activity and requires the hoop to be in a "settled" state before the menu system can accessed. It only takes a second of holding the hoop in the upright position as seen in the video below for the hoop to start listening for the menu system commands. Check out the video below showing how to navigate the menu system and change the brightness level.
Movement based patterns
There is nothing that can distract you from your flow more than having to worry about what pattern is currently being displayed, and feeling the need to change your movement in order for the current visual to look its best. A smart hoop should adapt to your flow and not the other way around. The Protege Hoop uses its motion sensors to detect specific movements like isolations, weaves, and hoop orientation, and makes sure that the patterns being displayed are always ones that look best for the performer's current movements.
Power management assistance
Along with a number of other techniques, the Protege hoop uses the motion sensor’s data to save every amount of battery power as possible. Switching to less intense chaser style patterns when movement of the hoop isn't fast enough to see full POV images, and going into standby when hoop activity has been stopped for a set amount of time, all go a long way in getting the most use out of the battery life.
- Dynamic PatternsThe Protege Hoop is loaded with hundreds of patterns. However, the way patterns work on the Protege is much different than most current smart hoops. Instead of each pattern being just an image displayed on the hoop, the patterns are actually dynamically generated by code. It's more appropriate to think of each "pattern" or "mode" as an actual mini-program that is capable of generating hundreds of variations of patterns using various information. These variations can come from user input like adjusting the color palette of the base pattern, or things more autonomous like the rotational speed of the hoop.
Pattern Creation System
The Protege hoop also has a built in pattern creation system allowing anyone to create completely custom patterns and pattern sets in matter of seconds, using nothing but the remote and the hoop itself.
- Modes for Iso, doubles, weaves, etc...
- Motion tracking and visual guidance on hoop LEDs
- Multiple training levels
I originally began making smart props because of my interest in the technical aspects. It wasn't until well after I had made the first prototypes that I actually picked up a hoop with the serious intention to learn how to "flow". On night one, I was hooked. On night two, I programmed a special mode to help me visualize and drill isolation's. This soon evolved into me creating additional modes that utilized the motion sensor and special light patterns to help with specific drills and movements. I have had a number of flow artist mention the speed of my own progression, and I can honestly say these modes where the key to really understanding and refining the core movements in flow.
- Custom connectors developed for stronger durability
- Perfect counter balance
- Water / Dust resistant
- Made to be as light as possible
My first LED prop I owned cost close to $400 and did not make it through the first night of its first festival, so I know first hand how disappointing this can be. The Protege Hoop was constructed from the very beginning with a dedication to making it the most durable hoop I could possibly create. My own personal style of flow could be considered "brutal" to a hoop at times, and the last thing any performer wants to do is change their flow style because they are scared that they may break their expensive hoop.
The video below shows what I put these hoops through on a daily basis. To this day, I still have and use the development hoop shown in this video.
A note on hoop weight
At the moment, there is still some final development being considered so I have kept from posting any final weight values. I will say that all components developed for the Protoge were done so with the mindset of making them as small as possible to accommodate a 5/8" option. However, I do feel confident in saying that we know a 5/8" Poly-pro Protege, with a 30” ID, will weigh less than 8oz!
- Poly-pro or HDPE
- Removable batteries w/ LED gap or non-removable with no LED gap
- 19” - 34” ID
- 5/8" or 3/4"
During the initial development of Prodigy Hoops, I constantly reached out to performers to better understand what features or aspects of a smart hoop were most important to them. In some cases, different performers had the need or desire for differing options, and it was hard to choose between two ideas that both had such strong opinions.. So at Prodigy Hoops, we took the easy way out. We just included both options so that a performer can choose the option that best fits their flow.
Over the past few years I have traveled the festival circuit as an LED artist, and I have met so many people with amazing ideas for smart flow props. A lot of them not only had the technical skill to make these ideas a reality, a lot of them had actually tried. Yet, over and over again I heard stories of how they got stuck trying to find or create the hardware & electronics or before they ever got a chance to actually work on their idea. I have always believed in the power of open source platforms and decided that the Prodigy Protege would be 100% open sourced. I also wanted the Protege to be as easy as possible for people to start programming and creating new features for.
With that in mind, it only made sense to make the Protege compatible with one of the most popular open source programming platforms. The Protege hoop is plug and play compatible with the Arduino IDE, and can be programmed using the Prodigy Flow library!
I am very excited to see the ideas from the flow community start pushing smart props to next level.
Prodigy Flow Platform - The Future of Prodigy Hoops
Although Prodigy Hoops is starting by launching the Protege Hoop & Protege Poi, the Prodigy Flow platform was built to be a smart platform for all flow props. Additional hoop & poi models, including the Tesla & Houdini hoops, will be launching soon after the initial batch of Proteges have been shipped. Along with our new partner, The Spinzterz, we will be working on expanding beyond Hoops and Poi into a number of exciting new smart props. All future props will be available through The Spinsterz online store.
This Kickstarter campaign will give Prodigy Hoops the ability to purchase the tooling and equipment needed to bring a large portion of the electronics production in-house, greatly reducing the cost and production time, and making it possible to provide this amazing hoop to the flow community for $199!
Sailor moon inspired stars, rainbow leopard print, 80's neon throwback
Hearts, Fire, AND PIZZA
Risks and challenges
I think the largest challenge for any new prop company (beyond the initial product development), is in executing the fulfillment of orders and the customer service following the shipping of a product. This can pose an even larger risk when you consider the volume of orders that a Kickstart campaign can potentially produce. For this reason, and many others, Prodigy Hoops has partnered with The Spinsterz, one of the most reputable prop makers & suppliers in the industry. With over 10 years experience building and selling beautiful hoops, as well as having run multiple Kickstarter campaigns themselves,
I believe there couldn’t be a better partner to help Prodigy Hoops with the manufacturing process, future sales, and customer service.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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