Pixel Phones


My idea for my final project is to see if I can create a system that allows for someone’s mobile devices to become a pixel in a light show. The idea is currently intended only for implementation in a seated venue, as it would ask the user to input their seat row and number in order to determine which pixel the phone should represent. The main challenge that I see myself facing is figuring out how to allow multiple phones to access the same pixel information and controlling for latency.


I think the first time I saw something like this was probably for one of the Superbowl half-time shows, where participants were given special LED devices that I’m assuming could keep track of their position, such as the PixMob SuperBowl Show.

Here is a more detailed version of what the company does.

However, this involves manufacturing and distributing many specialized devices. I figured if there was a way to use people’s cell phones and have them go to a website and enter their seat number, we could take advantage of all the tiny screens that everyone has in their pockets. In addition to drastically reducing costs, it would allow for audience interaction in regards to which way they decide or are instructed to point their phones.

Some other cool pixel projects that inspired me:

LED Sheep
LED Pigeons
LED Drones


I unfortunately haven’t found much in regards to doing this in the p5 environment, but I’m hoping some deeper research will yield better instructions.


This software would be geared towards lighting designers for live event use, but could also be incorporated into installation works and visual works to augment projections, screens, etc.


Would taking out your phone and using it during a show detract you from the experience? As opposed to being given a special device at the beginning of the show.

Would you be willing to download an app or go to a website and enter your seat information?

The Future

Down the line I would like to add more interaction, for example using the phone’s accelerometer to influences the pixels, allowingn for use in a non-seated venue by tracking the users, and controlling the phone’s light in addition to the screen.

Written on November 8, 2017