On Beyond Smart Hoops

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Last week, I kicked off a new project with Chris Wang of Freaklabs. Chris is a wireless expert and does the electronics for the Wrecking Crew Orchestra costumes. He and I are working together on a programmable LED hoop. This hoop will be beyond smart. I am beyond excited; this is the hoop I have been waiting for since I first saw LED hoops.

This is a hoop for performers. For hoop troupes. For soloists. For circus acts. For any sort of choreographed hoop event with a soundtrack. You will pre-program the hoop to your musical score. You will be able to set lights and patterns to any MP3 you wish, giving each hoop in your troupe a unique routine or making them all the same. They will synch wirelessly to the controller so when it comes time to perform, you press play on the computer which starts the music and the hoops’ instructions.

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Chris is working on a prototype over the summer. The plan is that the hoops will use 50/50 LED ribbons and LiOn 14500 batteries. The wireless control boards are designed to fit inside tubing with a 15mm (5/8″) ID. The LED ribbons have 50 color and pattern options. Of course all of this is subject to change – it’s a plan and plans can morph.

We’ll spend a few months with the prototype working out bugs and physical issues. A hoop takes a lot of hits (literally), acceleration, and torque as its used. We want to make sure it isn’t going to flake out mid-show.

I’m planning to use this year’s WHD Dance as my test choreo. I can see in my mind’s eye how programmable hoops can enhance the dance by changing color on key movements, turning off and on to spotlight dancers, sequencing across a formation, and giving the audience an extra spark of interest and excitement.

The coolest thing is that once we’ve gotten everything to spec, tested the hoops, tried out the programming, and are sure it works they way we want, Chris will release the designs open source so you can make your own. And maybe, just maybe, there will be kits or pre-made hoops for purchase.

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6 comments

    1. You have been there, done that. I know this is going to hurt…thanks for the support! I love your GR and plan to buy some when I am in Oz for Hoopy Happenings in Feb.

  1. Wow I am completely stoked about this! Can’t wait til y’all get it figured out and release it. People that share such awesome techniques and information are very rare, especially when there is lots of money to be made. Thank you guys for spreading such kind knowledge to the world! Here is a DIY smart hoop tutorial that might be useful!
    http://philihp.com/blog/2011/diy-led-hula-hoop/

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