About this project
Introducing the Trickstick!
What is a Trickstick?
The Trickstick is essentially a magic wand; wave it in front of you and a colorful, detailed image appears out of thin air. It’s wireless, intuitive and really simple to use. The companion iOS/Android app lets you select, crop, upload and manage images and animations over Bluetooth -- Choose them from your phone's photo gallery. After that, it’s as simple as waving your Trickstick in the air.
How do we do it?
Trickstick is a unique high res, full color, hand-held persistence of vision (POV) display wand.
Sure, I’ve seen POV before…!
…but never quite like the Trickstick!
What makes the Trickstick special?
People who have seen our prototypes frequently comment that the images are so striking, it's like magic!
So really, how do we do it?
More details in the ‘Technical’ section below, but here’s a quick overview:
- High resolution – 1.5mm pixel spacing and 128 pixels means that with a Trickstick just a few feet away (waving it with your arm extended) you and your friends can easily recognize faces in photos. It’s like a selfie on a stick (not a selfie stick!)
- Fast – the Trickstick can output a display line (column of an image) in just 75 microseconds; Super fast. So fast that it can spit out full frames at over 60 fps. That’s basically video rate, if your arms and wrists can swing it!
- Accelerometer synchronization – the Trickstick knows just how fast you are waving it, and can ensure that the stored images are displayed at the right time, in the right direction, and at the right rate for best appearance.
- Full Color depth – no loss of information, the Trickstick can display a 24-bit full color image with 4096:1 contrast ratio for incredibly nuanced colors.
- Wireless Upload + App integration
What can I do with it?
Trickstick images are magical. Even those who are well versed in POV technology say the effect we've achieved is truly amazing.
The brightness, color, and ability to display instantly recognizable faces from photos makes the Trickstick a great attention getter!
Use Trickstick to:
- Amaze – few will have seen anything like this before!
- Entertain – play funny animations in real time, in real space
- Promote – attract attention to your brand with a bright floating logo
- Protest – adapt your message quickly to the evolving situation!
- Direct traffic
- Creative arts:
Light-painting – with 1.5mm pixel spacing, you can work closer to the camera while maintaining high res detail. Plus, the output line rate is so fast, you can do many things without long exposure – your eye can even perform the integration on its own for real-time ‘live’ light painting effects!
Live performance – tell a story with a series of images – Magic!
But really, do I need one?
Yes! Because Trickstick is really, truly, unlike anything you have tried before.
Great! Here’s how you can help
The latest prototypes are looking good, but we need your help to make a production run of Tricksticks a reality. With your backing, we'll place the order with our seasoned California-based contract manufacturer. They are already lined up to build the first batch. We just need enough supporters to justify the cost of the full injection mold tooling for the case, and to pay for some professional help refining the Android and iOS apps.
Trickstick has been enormous fun to develop and refine and we look forward to sharing the result with you soon!
Like a number of other LED gadgets – including the famous and inspirational Sharper Image holographic message clock – the Trickstick makes use of the human visual systems’ “Persistence of Vision” (or P.O.V.) Check it out on Wikipedia. Basically, the microcontroller and LED drivers inside the trickstick turn each of the 128 RGB LEDs (actually, each individual LED chip) on or off every 15 nanoseconds. The controller and LED drivers create the right brightness (by adjusting on-time and current) for each pixel, in each column, at the right time. This ensures that when your eye sees all these LED-pixel columns/lines spread out one after the other in space (because of a combination of you waving the stick and the slow ‘POV’ response of the eye+brain) – voila – a perfect image magically floating in space!
By including an accelerometer, the Trickstick knows how it is being waved, and can adjust the triggering and synchronization of the display timing to match your motion. We’ve included a couple buttons to make it easy to use the trickstick all on its own (standalone – even without the app) and to navigate through the stored images and animations. Of course you will need to use the app to load your photos and images in the first place! The app (and the bluetooth interface, for those inclined to write their own app) provides access to more configuration and settings like brightness, trigger/synchronization modes, fixed display rates, that is, if you like configuration and programmability…
- 24 bit full color display
- 128 RGB LED pixels (0404 1mm x 1mm square)
- 1.5mm LED pixel pitch (~7.5” active display length)
- 4096:1 contrast ratio
- 13" total length
- Max line rate >13 kHz (line time is 75 microseconds)
- Max frame rate > 60 fps
- Reliable and stable rechargeable 18650 Li-Ion battery
- Micro USB charging
- 2 buttons to navigate through images + adjust settings
- Accelerometer synchronization and triggering
- Bluetooth 4.2 (low energy) radio for app connectivity
The Trickstick is a result of many years of technical fiddling with variations on hand-waved persistence of vision displays.
The hardware that became the Trickstick started life as an art project. Back then, it consisted of a lot of surface mount (0603) white LEDs on a bare circuit board, and produced a single flickering black and white half-tone image of Charlie Sheen stored in code memory. Since then, it has grown enormously in sophistication and usability. It’s gone full color, gotten much faster and better connected, and now includes an accelerometer to synchronize the display with motion; a nicely balanced case with buttons and an integrated rechargeable battery. It even has the ability to play animated GIFs! Wow!
You can check out an ancient version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsQ36vsPk4M
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Think this project is cool? We could use your help! Share the Trickstick with your friends and family! Share the Trickstick on Facebook! Share the Trickstick on Twitter!
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Risks and challenges
With any project there are always some risks. The good news is that because we've been at it for a while, the hardware and firmware features of Trickstick are not speculative; they are sorted out. The fully functional prototypes look and work great.
The main risks are related to unexpected manufacturing delays or screw-ups, which may result in delayed delivery to you.
Even when the design is "done", it still takes work to get the manufacturing right. We have experience and the right partners, and we’ve given ourselves plenty of time to get this right, with conservative estimates in our timelines. Nevertheless, sometimes things don't work out as planned. We'll inform our backers promptly if we see the schedule slipping.
Another risk area for us is the app UI/UX. We aim to delight, but neither of us is an Android or iOS wizard, and good help is expensive. We have working apps on both Android and iOS that let you load, crop and manage images, but if the budget runs tight, the companion app you get from us may not meet the level of polish or elegance you would expect to accompany some cool new hardware.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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