ION's genesis began with our first Kickstarter project, Ember & Torch (Bluetooth Low Energy development boards) back in June of 2013. One of the demonstrations for Ember that we built was an app-controlled LED lamp.
We demonstrated Ember, Torch, and the LED lamp at Social Media Day Detroit 2013. We quickly discovered that visitors were more interested in where they could purchase the lamp than Ember & Torch. Due to this overwhelming positive response to the lamp, we knew it was time to take it to the next level and create a consumer product. ION was born.
When setting out to build ION, we wanted to create something fun and beautiful. We love light and music, so we knew our device had to incorporate both. We've been working to push the boundaries of what can be done with LED lighting, and we're very excited to showcase our creation.
Throughout the last nine months, we've developed 3 different designs of ION, and each time we've raised the bar.
ION's magic comes from 40 multicolor LEDs. Each of which can display a color independent of the others. Around these LEDs is a durable acrylic tube, which contains light diffusing film. This smooths out the harshness of the light, while also allowing for the mixing of colors.
We designed Ion to be controlled by smartphone, but also wanted users to interact with it by touch. For this reason, we insisted upon aluminum caps precision cut via computer control. Each cap is anodized for a beautiful finish that protects against scratches. Now, changing modes is as simple as tapping the top of ION.
It’s one thing to command Ion yourself, but what if ION could put on a light show to your favorite music? We added a microphone and wrote software to do just that.
Your Personal Light Show
ION loves music as much as you do. With a built in microphone, ION syncs up with your favorite songs and puts on a show. In music mode, each song you play has a unique “color profile” generated on the fly. Low frequencies produce reds, mids produce greens, and highs produce blues. Every time a beat is detected (kick drum, bass, etc), you’ll see a bright pulse of light. Using the app, you can customize the emphasis of each color as you see fit. If you happen to be a musician, you’ll love playing with ION sitting nearby.
Rave isn't the only mood that will have music support. We're currently in the process of adding music support to several other moods as well!
Choose Your Mood
Out of the box, ION ships with more than 15 base moods, each fully customizable with the ION app. Mood options include color, speed, brightness, and several others. Customized moods are saved and stored on your ION. We'll continue adding additional moods as the Kickstarter progresses and after ION ships. Check out a few of our favorites!
With more to come!
Go Ahead, Touch It
Even without a smartphone, ION is easy to use. Simply tap the machined aluminum top to cycle through moods. We call this the rotation.
OFF → Solid Light → Mood 1 → Mood 2 → Mood 3 → OFF
Using the ION mobile app, you can easily add, remove, and customize moods in your rotation. More detail below.
We currently have a bare bones Android app that can control ION and send it notifications, and a bare bones iOS app. We are now in the process of building both the Android and iOS apps. This includes designing an intuitive UI, graphic design, and software development. The following features are currently being developed, with more to come.
Mood Browser - The mood browser allows you to find new moods and customize them. Swiping up and down on the browser loads in a new mood. You’ll immediately see ION display the selected mood. Many moods also have customizable settings (color, brightness, speed, etc). Just swipe to the left and watch ION change as you play with each setting.
Mood Rotation - Out of the box, most moods are accessible by simply tapping the top of Ion. Each tap jumps to the next mood in your rotation. Customizing the moods in this rotation is easy with the ION app. Just find a mood in the mood browser, customize any settings to express your mood, and tap the “add to rotation” button. If the mood is already in your rotation, the “remove from rotation” button will be visible instead. Have as many or as few moods in your rotation as you wish.
Shuffle Mode - No need to settle on one mood. Turn on shuffle to have ION switch between moods every few minutes. The shuffle duration can also be configured from the app.
Leash mode - Assuming you keep your phone on you, enabling leash mode will allow ION to know if you’re nearby. ION will automatically turn itself on when it detects your presence. Walk away and ION powers itself down to conserve power.
Android Notification Bar - Control ION without ever opening the app. Enable notification bar control to turn ION on/off and toggle between moods any time you're near your ION.
Weather & Time - Using your phone’s Internet connection, ION emulates the weather conditions outside. Or if you prefer, ION will display your daily forecast. Depending on the time of day, you may even see the sun or stars come out.
Firmware Updates - We wouldn’t want you to miss out on any new features or moods we add after you receive your ION, so we’ve included the ability to wirelessly apply updates. When the app detects you are running an older firmware version, you’ll be prompted to update to the latest and greatest.
No more wondering if that was just a phantom vibration in your pocket or someone trying to make dinner plans. Link ION with your phone and set a custom notification color and light effect for any of the following:
- Text Message
- Multimedia Message
- Calendar Notification
- Google Hangouts
- Alarm Clock
- Incoming Call
- Missed Call
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Plus
- Google Voice
With support for additional apps in the future! ION will support most iOS and Android devices that ship with Bluetooth Low Energy.
Proudly Made in America
When setting out to build ION, we knew we wanted to manufacture and assemble them here in the United States. Being based out of Flint, Michigan, we’ve seen what happens when manufacturing jobs move overseas. There’s no secret formula to why it’s cheaper to build products outside of the US - workers are paid far less than they should be.
To help reverse this trend, we are working with many local companies to make ION a reality.
- Alro Steel - Flint, MI - Aluminum for Ion’s Caps
- Barch Designs - Port Huron, MI - CNC Machining of Caps
- Amtech Electrocircuits - Troy, MI - Circuit Boards + Assembly
- ePlastics - San Diego, CA and/or US Plastic - Lima, OH - Acrylic Tube
- McNichols Polishing & Anodizing Inc - Redford, MI - Anodizing
- Lava (that’s us!) - Flint, MI - Final Assembly
We <3 Developers
Interested in controlling ION from your Raspberry Pi, App, or Satellite in Geosynchronous Orbit? We’ve got you covered! In order to create our Try ION website (http://tryion.lava.io) we began developing a Node.JS library called "ionode". Ionode allows you to change modes, trigger notifications, and set configuration parameters of your ION. Currently Ionode is supported on Linux devices with Bluetooth Low Energy. There are several low cost BLE dongles (like this one) supported by Linux if you don't already have one. Ionode will be released shortly after this Kickstarter on GitHub.
We are also building out iOS and Android libraries so that you can build apps that integrate with ION. We can't wait to see what you create!
- March - Finalizing base Mood set, begin development of Apps
- April - Kickstarter Launched, Continued Software Development
- May - Kickstarter Ends, Orders placed for Components
- June - Assembly begins
- July - Testing of units, Firmware finalized
- August - Apps published, First units Delivered
Risks and challenges
When you’re dealing with physical/electrical products, there’s always a risk that a particular component will go out of stock or be discontinued. We’ve done our best to ensure backup suppliers for all of our parts, but delays in delivery are inevitable if any unforeseen circumstances occur. Communication with you, our backers, is always a top priority. We will ensure that if any snags are hit along the way, you are informed and aware of our status.
That being said, by working with as many local companies as possible, mitigating production delays will occur quickly and efficiently. Both our circuit board assembly and CNC milling partners are located within an hour’s drive of our office. Most of the components sourced for ION come from the United States, shortening the time required for communication with other companies and shipping.
The next major challenge we face is simultaneously building iPhone and Android applications, giving users the same great ION experience. Due to the different nature of iOS vs. Android's API's, certain features such as notifications and leash mode will be the most complicated to replicate with similar experiences. However, we are confident that our wealth of experience with iOS, Android, and Bluetooth LE will allow us to design and craft an amazing app for both Apple and Android users.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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