ThingM Project Feature: Books with Personality

BlinkM in Books with Personality

Creators:  Jisu Choi + Matt Kizu from Art Center

The intent of this project was to create animism in an object, with the use of programmable BlinkM® LEDs. We were interested in books because, as a set of objects, they still had a degree of individuality which we wanted to bring forward. By accentuating the character that the titles already exuded, we were able to develop each personality in unique ways, furthering the books from their common mass–produced ancestry. This experiment came close to becoming a psychoanalysis of an object–exploring themes of ego, vulnerability, intellect, and self-awareness.

The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived – Forever a star in his own world, is now defiantly resisting any attempt at engaging an audience that doesn’t understand his art. He is, in fact, on another level–too good for the common man to engage, and so will not allow anyone to even pick him up.

The Dictionary of the Future – Is perhaps the most sought after authority of a future that has yet to arrive. Convinced that sound-based language will not survive beyond earth, he has devised his own intergalactic visual language in an attempt to communicate with other like-minded species.  The Meaning and Measurement of Neuroticism and Anxiety – The basketcase genius will hold you captive for hours on end, obsessively discussing psychophysiological interactions, during which signs of his own neuroticism become apparent.

ProjectBlog_BookPersoanlity (Downloadable PDF)

ThingM Project Feature: BlinkM in the Lantern

BlinkM in the Lantern                                                Creator: David Enoch

David has been making handmade lanterns for years.  The halogen and xenon bulbs he used  produced nice light and shadows, but were costly and fragile, and can’t be easily powered by batteries.  Wanting to find  an LED solution for years, David was unable to find any that produced the same quality or warmth he liked – that is until he discovered BlinkM’s, which he used to replace  the halogen bulbs.  He was thrilled to discover that they added a whole new character to the lanterns,  as well as the space where they were hung.  BlinkM’s helped to create interesting and unique light patterns on the walls and produced light that was both bright and warm.  He could also easily wire a 2AA battery pack to them which enabled him to free them from the wall.  In short, he won’t be going back to halogen lights, and looks forward to incorporating BlinkM’s in future projects.

ProjectBlog_DavidEnoch_Lantern (Downloadable PDF)

ThingM Project Feature: BlinkM in DrumKit

DrumKit was the result of a semester of design and prototyping as part of a product design course at Rensselaer.  DrumKit is meant to encourage the user to explore music, math, programming, electronics, and acoustics.

* The kit can be programmed to build rhythms. Through iteration and other mathematical patterns, one can explore rhythms and meters of increasing complexity.
* The Arduino-based system can be integrated with other electronics to construct new instruments or inventions.
* The mallets can be used with drums or other objects in order to combine interesting sounds.

The system works with any Arduino-compatible software. The mallets themselves are mobile, connected with standard network cables to a hub, which is linked to the Arduino controller as well as a central power source.


Anasha Cummings
Joe DiLuzio
Dan Zollman

How DrumKit Works:

In the prototype, each mallet is a simple lever driven by a solenoid. The Arduino sends a 5-volt pulse for each stroke of the mallet, triggering a relay which turns on the solenoid at 24 volts. The Arduino signal also turns on a BlinkM for the duration of the stroke (see below). The length of the pulse can be varied in order to change the way the mallet strikes the drum surface; a quick pulse results in a fast recoil and a quick staccato, while a longer pulse holds the mallet against the drum and changes its sound.

BlinkMs as Feedback Mechanisms:

Each mallet uses a BlinkMs as a feedback mechanism. A BlinkM is an LED that can be programmed to play back a sequences of color when it receives power. On a mallet, the BlinkM’s color reflects the motion of the mallet. The light also makes it possible to see the signal received by a mallet even if the solenoid’s power source is disconnected.

When a mallet is triggered, the BlinkM first turns red and then fades, or “cools down”, to blue, representing the decay of the drum hit. For short mallet strokes, the light simply flashes in red before turning off. The longer the mallet is held down, however, the closer to blue the color gets. Eventually, the color stops changing because an excessively long stroke no longer affects the sound of the drum.


ProjectBlog_Renssleaer_DrumKit (Downloadable PDF)   (link to more information)

ThingM Project Feature: BlinkM in Firefly Cloud

University of Michigan – Fall 2010 – SmartSurfaces offered a collaborative, project-based learning experience in which undergraduate artists, designers, architects and engineers came together to build structural surfaces that have the capability to adapt to information and environmental conditions.

Each team was required to design, build, program and test a ‘Biomimetic SmartSurface’. They had to consider and negotiate what makes a surface smart, and why we would be interested in copying nature to try to solve human problems.


Steven Madsen, Material Science and Engineering
Kevin Yien, Material Science and Engineering
Chris Niswander, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Jordan Stoewsand-Kryscio, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Mallory Baran, School of Art and Design
Michael Theodore, School of Art and Design

Various types of LEDs diffusely illuminate a wall comprised of straws. Mimicking a swarm of fireflies, the lights flee and evade according to motion detection. The soft texture generated by the straws, in concert with ‘moving’ LEDs, offers a unique visual experience and gives users the childhood feeling of playing with fireflies.


ProjectBlog_Michigan_Firefly (Downloadable PDF)  (link to more information)

ThingM Project Feature: BlinkM in The MEAL Project

BlinkM in The MEAL Project                           Creator: Corinna Sherman

For the distracted diner who wants a subtle reminder to assess how full he or she is while eating, the MEAL dish is a weight-sensing dish that illuminates with colored light to give the user a sense of how much food has been eaten since the meal began. Normal dishware provides no feedback, placing the burden of self-monitoring entirely on the individual. Mealtime distractions pose less of an issue, however, when responsive MEAL dishes help people mind their own sense of satiety with subtle, pleasant cues via ambient light.

How It Works:

1. Plug the Arduino into wall outlet and press the power button on the base unit to register the minimum weight of the empty dish.
2. Fill the dish with food. 3 RGB LEDs that are located inside the base unit will pulse red when the minimum amount of weight has been added to enable subsequent monitoring.
3. Press the calibration button on the base unit to register the maximum weight.
4. Each of the dish’s three legs sits upon a load sensor. The sensors connect to the Arduino, which monitors the total weight sensed over time. As food is eaten from the dish, the Arduino translates the sensed weight change into a hue shift in the LEDs from red (a color shown to stimulate appetite) to blue (a color shown to promote relaxation).

Downloadable PDF:


link to more information:

ThingM Project Feature: Explosives Detonator Prop

Explosives Detonator Prop                           Created By: Chris Ellerby

Recently we had the job of creating a explosives detonator prop, and once again, I just had to put a BlinkM in the project!    When the device is “armed” the screen displays a flashing  message and a 30 second looping countdown begins.  This triggers the BlinkM to start flashing in a Red – Red – Green pattern.   The center dash lights were mounted in a light diffusing case, and looked amazing on set.

Materials Needed:

– One standard plastic hobby box with a power toggle switch

– Key entry pad

– LCD display

– wireless antenna

– Last but not least a BlinkM smart LED!

BlinkMProjectFeature-ExplosivesDetonatorProp (Downloadable PDF)

ReflashBlinkM: Update your BlinkM’s firmware

All BlinkM-family devices can have their firmware updated. This makes them great for tiny development boards for ATtiny processors. ReflashBlinkM is an application that makes it easy to put back the original firmware or update a BlinkM to the latest firmware.

Previously you needed an AVR ISP programmer like the AVRISPmkII or the USBtinyISP. Thanks to the ArduinoISP sketch that ships with Arduino, if you have already have an Arduino, you can easily reflash your BlinkM with new firmware.

The ReflashBlinkM application is a tool for Mac OS X and Windows that uses ArduinoISP to help you reflash BlinkMs to their default firmware.

This is what it looks like:

Here’s one way of hooking up a BlinkM to an ArduinoISP:

And here’s a video of a BlinkM MinM being reflashed:

For full instructions, see the ReflashBlinkM page in the blinkm-projects Google code site.

ThingM Project Feature: Seito Odoshi

Seito Odoshi                                                                                     Creator: Tokyo University of the Arts

A fall workshop at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Twenty two students worked in groups to develop and prototype a project within a few days.

Team 3 created Seito Odoshi (a students intimidator). The object is used to calculate how long students sleep. Using a distance sensor and a BlinkM – the Seito Odoshi warns someone by moving the tube and changing its color.

ProjectBlog_Seito Odoshi_1 (Downloadable PDF)

ThingM Project Feature: Burning Man Bike

BlinkM Burning Man Bike     Creator: Chris Ellerby

For this amazing Burning Man bike project I took a Worksman trike and
lined the frame with RGB LED light bars and wired them all to a single
controller. The light bars can be easily set to display a single color, flashing
color sequence, or slow fading color sequence, all from a single
button. The bike is also wired with a stereo sound system, a 12v 18am
hour SLA battery, and even has space left in the rear basket for a small
cooler. To push this project over the top, the BlinkM MaxM made its
glorious return. I took a small plastic skull and mounted the MaxM inside
with a 9v battery and a toggle switch. The MaxM was programmed with a
random sequence of colors, and the whole thing was attached to the front
of the bike. As you can see from the following video, it really completes
the project. That said, I have one more MaxM that I simply must put
elsewhere on the bike, Im just looking for the perfect spot!

ProjectBlogTemplate_2 (Download PDF)

BlinkM Project Feature: Ardupilot

BlinkM as an ArduPilot Mega Indicator Creator: Josh Villibrandt

The ArduPilot Mega (APM) is an open-­‐source autopilot for RC aircraft that is currently under development. The APM package consists of a main computer board based off Arduino, a sensor board, and various other attachments to complete the whole system. In this APM project, it was decided that all of the APM components would be placed inside the fuselage body. While this is great for the appearance of the plane and the safety of the components, it also means that any status LEDs built into the APM components are hidden from view.

Materials Needed:

• BlinkM (Or BlinkM MinM or BlinkM MaxM)
• RC Plane
• ArduPilot Mega w/ Oilpan (the sensor board)
• Four female-­‐female jumper wires
• X-­‐Acto knife
• Hot-­‐glue gun

BlinkM Project Feature: Autopilot (download PDF)