The HappyGem is an art project based on human interaction. It is an interactive light-effect necklace that uses 16 LEDs to display colorful animated patterns. HappyGems interact with each other wirelessly based on the distance between them.
Our goal is to bring as many HappyGems to Burning Man as possible. Each gem will start with a simple randomly generated light pattern. When you meet someone else wearing a HappyGem, you can give this person a hug, and the pattern on each of your gems will combine into two new patterns. It’s as if your gems make love and produce two children that replace them. Your pattern will continually evolve during the festival, and will become a reflection of all the people you meet.
The HappyGem will not look like a professionally made product, because – we are not professionals. There are certain production techniques that are not sensible for producing a short run of devices. But we will pour our souls into them and make sure they're made with lots of love.
The Pledges — The small pledges are for those of you who wish to support the project, but are not going to Burning Man or do not wish to give enough to adopt a gem. We will send the stickers before Burning Man if we have time, but we will prioritize making the HappyGems first. This money will be used to make gems that we will gift to people on the playa.
If you wish to adopt a gem, you have three choices: you can get one for yourself, you can reserve one for a friend or you can let us gift one to a random stranger with a personalized message attached. Please note that you can not adopt a HappyGem for a person who’s not going to Burning Man since this is where we’ll be handing the out.
The Original Prototypes — To help raise money for more HappyGems to gift, we’ve decided to give away some of the original prototypes we’ve used to develop the technology. Before you pledge to recieve one of these please be aware: the prototypes are a bit fragile, poorly soldered and can not be used as a HappyGem at Burning Man. They are however, a bit more hacker friendly than the HappyGems, so you can use them for your own electronics projects if you wish.
The Economics — We’ve covered the cost of developing the prototypes, and we’ve recieved $1600 from a culture and art fund which will be used for any additional prototyping and overhead costs and to make more HappyGems to gift at Burning Man.
When you pledge enough to recieve or gift a HappyGem, we’ve calculated the cost based on the material costs plus a healthy margin to cover any unanticipated costs. All the money we recieve will be spent on HappyGems, so the fewer unanticipated costs the more gems we will gift.
If for some reason we’re not able to use all the money we’ve recieved on HappyGems this year, we will use the money for next years project.
Next Year? — The HappyGem has given us so many ideas, and if this project is a success, we will use our experience to make an even better gem for next years Burning Man. Light patterns that react to music, interaction spanning larger distances and group games are just some of the things we’ve been thinking of. And after this years Burning Man we’ll certainly have a thousand more ideas. And what’s more, we can use the HappyGems made this year next year too.
Recycling — We will set up a program where those who wish can return the HappyGems to us. That way we can reprogram them so we can use them with next years project and regift them. But if you want to keep it and play with it, we encourage that as well.
For The Hackers — Some of you may want to use the HappyGem for your own projects when you get home. The HappyGem uses an ATmega128RFA1 microcontroller, and the JTAG port is exposed so you can make and upload your own software for the device. We’ll help you out in any way we can, and we’ll publish some software to help you get started. There’s even PCB traces for a bonus feature!
How Can I Help? — If you want to contribute to the project there are a few things we could use some help with.
• If you have an eletronics lab in or near Portland and would be willing to lend us access (and maybe a hand?), that would help us speed up production.
• The HappyGem needs a cover to protect it from the playa dust. We have a solution, but it’s improvised. If you know a cheap and easy way to make transparent plastic covers and are willing to help us make them, that would help us make better looking and sturdier gems.
• Do you have some good looking neckbands we could have for free or cheap?
In The Spirit of Burning Man — This is not a product launch. The HappyGems will not be sold to anyone before or after Burning Man, and the HappyGem name and logo will not be used to market or sell any product. Although it is a device, we consider the HappyGem not as a product, but as a component in an interactive art project. We will strive to keep this project and its evolution in the spirit of Burning Man, and we will listen to any and all comments from the community.
* Your HappyGem may look different from the illustration above. Results may vary. Batteries probably included. Do not eat the HappyGem. Do not use the HappyGem as a coaster. Actually, do. It would make an awesome coaster, just don't spill on it.
- (40 days)