About this project
Thanks for your amazing support of the Kickstarter campaign! The next chapter of Lightpack project is just beginning now.
Here is a summary of updates and links you might find quite useful:
- GetLightpack.com our main website for news, pre-order and sales
- Our Facebook page full of news and kittens
- Lightpack source-codes and tuts for DIY-guys
- Lightpack with Android demo
- Synchronous work of several Lightpacks demo
- You can use Lightpack with any of these devices
Also there are a lot of helpful things in the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.
When we were kids, many of us were not allowed to watch TV at night because watching it in the darkness was harmful for the eyes (which is actually true). Many of us are still not following our parents’ advice as it is a very good way to focus on what is going on on the screen (which is also true). Here we would like to share with you how you could continue watching TV or working on computer at night and stop bothering about the health of your eyes, and at the same time come to a new level of experience in gaming and watching movies.
Lightpack is an open-source device, which lightens your computer or TV screen to strengthen the presence effect. The device needs to be mounted on your TV or computer screen and to be connected to your PC, Mac or HTPC via USB. The software analyses what you currently have on the screen, be it a movie, a game, or anything else, and sends this information to the Lightpack device which in turn lightens the surface behind the screen with matching colours using the RGB-LEDs available within the Lightpack device. You can find basics about Lightpack working principles in our project wiki.
We have not tried to revolutionize the industry but just wanted to provide you with a simple and cheap device which would give a new life to your TV or computer screen and bring you new colors and effects.
TV screen is the only source of light in a dark room. Dark and bright scenes are switching very fast when you are watching a movie. Your pupil reacts to the level of light by changing its size, sometimes from 1 to 8 millimeters, and when it is switching from darkness to light, it takes about 5 sec for a pupil to narrow, and up to 5 mins to increase the size of a pupil when it gets darker. That's why the muscles of an eye are in constant tension which can lead to vision problems. This is exactly why your parents didn't allow you watching TV in a dark room – they were just trying to protect your eyes.
Lightpack can also level the intensity of light in your room by reducing the difference in lighting between dark and bright scenes or completely eliminating it (Prof. Dr. Ir. S.H.A. Begemann of TUe, Netherlands, scientific study for Philips).
Lightpack takes an advantage of another feature of human vision: only a very small part of the retina (which is called “macula”) can actually distinguish all the smallest details of a picture, with the picture being fuzzy for the rest of the retina. In fact, the very small (0.2-0.4 mm) part of the macula (called “fovea”) and the farthest from the pupil can recognize the depth of field of a picture. This means that while watching TV you can only see in focus a very small part of the picture on the screen (its size depends on the distance between your eye and the screen). Your brain then works efficiently to combine this small focused part and the rest scene information into a coherent picture. Using the soft illumination of Lightpack which extends the actual picture on the screen, you see your 40-inch TV as if it were a 50-inch home theater.
If you think we could not make the project more transparent, you are wrong! We have created a special PCB layout for DIY-enthusiasts and wrote manual for Lightpack do-it-yourselfers. We also to support the network API which helps you to add your own plugins or control the Lightpack device remotely by 3rd-party apps. Lightpack is fully open for users, hackers, makers or anyone else.
The device is a PCB with microcontroller and LED driver ICs, and set of electronic components in the small box with several connectors. The box needs to be mounted at the back side of your PC, laptop or TV screen. 10 LED-sets are then stuck to the back side of your screen (at the edges), and the LEDs are then connected to the Lightpack box with cables. There is also a power supply and a microUSB for the PC, Mac or HTPC. There is no way you can install something wrong. There is also no need to install any device drivers – just the Prismatik software. Lightpack is completely plug-n-play device.
You will need less than 10 mins to set everything up. Choose yourself the location of LED sets. Depending on the size of your computer or TV screen, you can stick them either only on the sides of the screen or make a full loop. The size of the screen can be up to 50 inches. For more details check our FAQ.
Someone might argue that the device looks very simple and ordinary but the truth is that users will only see it during the installation process and the rest of the time it will be hidden behind the screen. Therefore, when we worked on the design of the device we have used the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). What you currently see on the photo is a pre-production prototype, and the final version will be slightly juicier!
The Prismatik software has been developed for Lightpack. The cross-platform software analyzes picture from your desktop, movie or game.
Prismatik works under Windows, Linux and OS X. The following features of the software are worth mentioning:
- Works with multiple independent RGB channels (up to 255)
- Sets the color balance for each LED
- Sets custom color capturing areas for each LED
- Calculates the average color of the picture
- Scene luminosity threshold for your eyes protection
- Works as the background lamp (mood lamp)
- Uses colors from games and video
- Plugins (download and play)
- Open net API for external plugin development (including iOS and Android)
- XBMC integration
- Integration with Dell Alienware LightFX (beta)
- Settings profiles, hotkeys, multiple language support and much more...
We find it important to mention again that the software has been designed to reflect the specifics of the human vision (see "Scientific background"). We didn't aim to create the bright illumination which looks nice but harm your eyes. However under Scene luminosity threshold settings you can set up your own profile which would best meet your needs.
The Prismatik software has predefined settings for those who don’t want to spent a lot of time setting your own lighting scheme. You can download and install the beta version of software right now.
The pre-production phase is already over. You can see that there are only few steps left to start the mass production and distribution.
There are several improvements we plan to implement such as packaging design, logistics process definition, some software improvements, creation of more detailed user manual etc. We see these improvements as the minor ones – there is no significant impact on the functionality of the device. Also, don’t forget to read the Risks and Challenges special section you can find below.
Mike Sannikov is a product designer who has developed the Russian open-hardware projects such as Pixelkit, Glitchy-sequencer, and Lo-res pixelator. Mike started the Lightpack project in 2011 and has been working on it up to now.
Tim Sattarov is a talented engineer who is responsible for the Lighpack R&D. He is very fast in bringing every new idea to the working prototype.
Dmitry Gorilovsky is a product innovator who likes to invent new things and bring them to life. His experience includes development of mobile phones, video games and mobile services for companies such Yota, Megafon, Andromeda, Creat Studios, etc. He covers all financial topics and consults on production process.
The Lightpack team is of course bigger! It includes production managers who are working in Asia, as well as other engineers and designers. We have been working on Lightpack development for about 2 years and within these 2 years have created a tons of prototypes with different functionality and level of readiness. Last year Russian users could already buy a fully functioning version of Lightpack which however was not yet ready for mass-market.
We have already sold over 1,000 batch-production optimized devices in Russia. Over 4K were assembled by the users themselves (as all firmware layouts and software source codes were open). 6 months ago we have finalized the design of the device and now are ready to start mass production which would also include product support, certification, etc.
Sex, drugs and open-source, of course :) Our goal is to make the Lightpack device cheap (which in turn makes it available to the users all over the World). This is only possible under the mass production, with at least thousands of devices being produced every month. To keep prices low we need to be involved in every production step, starting from cables up to packaging. The project target is “make it cheap or die”.
Each tooling used for the Lightpack enclosure production costs about 7-12K USD, and we need at least 3 of those (4 is better). The price does not include soft tooling for prototypes or even 3D-printed mock-up model. The mass production requires these things to be done first.
We also need to finance the international certification of the device (min 15K USD), which is a very important step to make sure the product is safe and legally ready for distribution in the US, EU and other countries. However as mentioned earlier we will spend most of the money we plan to collect here on production, packaging and distribution of the first batch of devices. Due to Kickstarter charges our goal is 261,000$ instead of 249,000$ specified in infographics.
The most difficult part of the whole process — product creation — is over, and now we need financial support to keep things rolling. After the pilot batch production you will see a report or infographic stating all costs & expenses we’ve had. All backers will have full access to all info about the development and production processes. We are fully open for you.
Risks and challenges
Lightpack (like any hardware project) has mechanical, electrical, software and firmware challenges. As mentioned earlier, the batch-production optimized version of the device, as well as the self-assembled devices, have been successfully installed and are being used by several thousands users. Therefore we do not expect any critical issues related to electronics. However, we will still test the pre-mass production sample device, which will be almost the same as the pilot batch device. If there are any mechanical issues, which we really doubt, we will still have a chance to detect and fix those. As for software and firmware issues, if any, they will be covered & fixed in new releases of software\firmware. We will maintain an “open-to-all” bug-tracker where every user will be able to submit any issues. These issues will be treated with the highest priority, and you will then be able to download a software\firmware update and fix the issue.
Production and shipping in time is another challenge. We are collaborating with well experienced and responsible Taiwan company which take care about production plan and whole supply chain building. Also we design Lightpack hardware and build BOM (bill of materials) according to famous mass-suppliers' capabilities for this. We plan to do things according our Gantt-chart you can see in “production plan” section. Nevertheless, if we are going out of date we will notice you with project update which contains all issue reasons and how we will fight them. Production plan compiled with risks-consider time-management rules, so it has some time-handicap as well. Once the production is over, we will send devices by batch to the warehouses in the US an in Europe for further delivery to our customers. The rest of the batch will be stored in the our international warehouse in China for shipments to our non-US/EU customers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
No! A desktop operating system of Windows, Linux or OS X is necessary to install the Prismatik software that allows to capture the picture (or any rooted Android 4+ device with Prism app, see update #5). So, one more time: any display connected to Windows, Linux, OS X or Android.
Yes, the Prismatik has several limitations that are described in the wiki of the project ( http://goo.gl/opqtO ) . Most of these limitations relate Windows OS (especially to Win 8). You should understand that the Prismatik’s settings influence CPU usage a lot. For example, the efficiency in Windows is three times higher with the disabled Aero interface. It should be also mentioned that Prismatik influences the efficiency decrease when working with discrete ATI videos. Unfortunately, the problem is in ATI Catalyst drivers and there is no way for us to solve it. The last limitation is the capture in modern games for Windows. The capture isn’t working in games using OpenGL as a main renderer and it may not work in some games for DX11 (it depends on the settings of a game). We’ve been doing great work on the capture from games and it hasn’t been completed yet. OpenGL support will be implemented soon.
It’s important to understand that the beta version of our program can be downloaded now. Moreover, you can test Prismatik even without Lightpack by choosing virtual device in the list of devices. If you plan to use Lightpack with some special videoplayer, or you need the capture from some particular game - the simplest and reliable way is to check everything by installing the soft beforehand.
We guarantee the effective work of 1 Lightpack on the diagonals from 10 to 50 inches, but it’s important that the visual effect depends on the several characteristics special for your setup. One of the main characteristics is the distance from your TV set to the wall. The smaller it is, the worse the light diffuses and the chance to see “black holes” between LED modules and consistence of spot is lower. For 42-50 inches it’s enough to have the distance to the wall less than 8-10 inches (you can have more, but not less). In case if you want to light not all the perimeter but only sides so to speak then the minimal distance will be even less.
No, you can’t. Prismatik is a cross-platform screen-capturing software that can run on a full-fledged(!) Android/Windows/Linux/OS X based device.
It’s important to know that your OS is the video signal source: you can’t process incoming data from your Xbox, PS, Apple TV and so on, even having Lightpack attached to the desktop at the same time.
The solution is to mount two (or more) Lightpacks at a time. Increasing the number of LED modules or cables length would lead to significant changes in the hardware, ending with device fragmentation (plenty of versions and modifications would appear) which is undesirable for the project. During the Kickstarter campaign we’ve improved the software to support this feature: check out the video demo about synchronous work of several Lightpacks in our 3rd update: http://goo.gl/6HKgY
Please remember that cables length is 70cm (28'). This is why 1 Lightpack covers up to 50'. But you should definitely understand that you can't just use a simple adding up and get 100' with two Lightpacks.
In the most common cases you need 2 Lightpacks for displays from 50' to 62' and 3 Lightpacks for 62'-80' diagonals. It highly(!) depends on the space between the display and the wall and which sides you want to lighten: sometimes it’s recommended to mount two Lightpacks even on 50’ screen.
It's even more complicated for a multidisplay setup because it depends on the displays orientation. We're surely going to make some simple calculator (or simple formula) for you to count this. Check out the video demo about synchronous work of several Lightpacks in our 3rd update: http://goo.gl/6HKgY
I heard Lightpack would be full Android-compatible device, including support of OUYA and GameStick. Is it true?
We have created the prototype app (we call it Prism as as the younger brother of Prismatik) which works on rooted devices under Android 4+ and allows us getting the picture directly from the video and games, with Lightpack being directly connected to USB host via OTG. For the demo video in our update we used a chinese (in all respects) Android mini PC MK809 which does just fine to highlight the main use-case of Lightpack with Android devices. We also ran our app prototype on Nexus 7 (based on Nvidia Tegra 3, identically to OUYA) and Asus TF101 (Tegra 2) tablets, and the app performed quite smoothly on both. For the further info and demo check out our update about Lightpack with Android: http://goo.gl/azuHU
Prismatik is based on Qt framework, which last version perfectly compiles for Raspberry Pi, and Prismatik can be run in background even without GUI. It’s more likely that we’ll announce RPi support after some small-time R&D investigation (see update #7 http://goo.gl/ptLxc ).
Yes. Prismatik can be run on Linux which is typical OS for this and many other media centers software. Prismatik’s interface should be disabled with a key “--nogui”. Please take notice that basic settings (like turning off/on, switching profiles etc) is performed with XBMC plug-in
Why the device requires a computer to work? Why not creating a pass-through device which could be connected through HDMI?
We have been working on such device however this device has nothing in common with Lightpack, neither in the way it works, nor in the components which are required, nor in the complexity. The biggest problem here are the licenses. If for example the device is going to be connected through HDMI, we’ll have to join the HDCP consortium, which means buying expensive splitters, security keys etc which would allow us to decode the signal. the next step would include finding ways to evade existing patents (by Philips) which cover the methods and principles of analyzing the “raw” signal in the cable. If this doesn't work, we’ll have to go through the licensing process which of course means extra time/costs. Besides, production of multilayer PCB (minimum 4 layers) with FPGA also means extra costs, making the whole idea unprofitable. We will continue research of this topic but there is nothing to be expected at this moment. Anyway, the new device (if created) will be something else compared to Lightpack.
It’s easy as eggs is eggs: by means of one of our previous projects ( http://goo.gl/p7Uih ) we’ll make a photo specially for you, in the center of which there will be the sent image or the phrase made by the light (like this http://goo.gl/RVO9Y or this http://goo.gl/4PoAu ). The main requirements: It must be the text of not more than 20 symbols, or a bitmap picture not more than 8 px in height. We’re undertaking the background.) The result will be sent to you in digital form.
Don’t worry, it’s already taken into account. We will provide suitable plugs for each country in accordance to delivery state or backer’s special request.
This is a clear example that shows us it’s better to overdo than underdo. The LED is really bright on the demonstration, but after it we’ve decreased its brightness by means of the firmware. So, this problem has been already solved.
When we have the first Lightpack lot to ship and we come to definite shipment conditions with logistic companies we will send a survey to all backers. With this form you’ll be able to do next:
- to specify delivery address
- to remind us of any special arrangements if such have place between us
- to ask your questions and to express any additional preferences on documentation, customs or taxes.
Those who didn’t get to participate in our Kickstarter campaign in time can still get all the information and news updates on when and how to get the device from our official project site http://getlightpack.com
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