FireFly: Wearable Social Pendant

Firefly is is a wearable light installation in the form of a pendant. It was inspired by bio-luminescence and bio-synchronization.

Firefly is a social pendant that reacts to social situations and human contact (Firefly development timeline).

It creates visualizations of human group-social dynamic in real time using color. Both for the individual and the group. It performs group synchronizations when there is a critical mass in number and proximity.

They play light vignettes to celebrate social interactions such as making a new friend or that your the connector in a group.

Here are a few clips from development and testing of Firefly.


How Firefly Works

This interactive-wearable computing project fuses social network theory (primer), color theory, color psychology using  open hardware and open source software.

Software gives Firefly its personality. It runs in an Arduino microcontroller which uses a C++ dialect. It defines and coordinates all LED visualizations. The software creates an identity for each bug and manages infrared communications between bugs. It tracks a bug’s friends (other bugs), the wider network and a recency network and assigns a color related to social degree and relative social degree. It controls contagions and bio-synchronized light shows including decay time and dead time. It is aware of human contact through the switch and shake sensor.

Who Made Firefly V1?

Firefly was commissioned by Ontario Electronic Stewardship. It’s a multidisciplinary collaboration between Michael GrantMark StephensonDarcy Whyte. It’s also a hackable-reusable platform using Arduino micro-controllers and infrared communications. We’ll be doing workshops on how to program Arduino and learn to hack Firefly. Support from launched Firefly into the night at Nuit Blanche 2013.

Here’s another video:

Future of Firefly

Firefly appeared at Nuit Blanche with it’s own return envelopes so that people could return them for subsequent installations, shows and workshops. They were very popular and we did not receive a significant amount back so we are looking at creating another batch.

The initial plan for Firefly includes checkpoints/zones, data collection, data visualization and many other elements. We’ve kept all this in mind the way through hoping to get a large enough installation to deploy all these ideas.

Below is a similar project from Disney. It has all the same elements except the metaphor is Mickey ears. It’s rather interesting how close this is to our project. You can see how this can come together on a larger scale (link1, link2).


Old link was firefly-wearable-social-pendant

Identical project shows up on Hack-A-Day.








to “FireFly: Wearable Social Pendant

  • This Firefly nad Glowy Ears thing is SOOOO COOOL! With a temperature sensor it could be a mood warning thing. With a motion sensor it can become a ‘no-I’m-not-inebriated-I always-walk-this way’ warning device.

    • Thanks for the note. It’s been a fun project and yes there are endless possibilities for a project like this.

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