It’s July. Not exactly the time you want to rush out and buy your holiday lights. However, what we’re about to discuss is poised to change the way you think about holiday lighting. If you’ve admired the crazy dub-step holiday display seen a bazillion times on youTube, we’ve found a product that might just make you a serious LED holiday lights competitor. You don’t need an electrical engineering degree, nor do you need a Griswold-safe 10 million gigawatt circuit breaker to do it. A company called Lumenplay has set out to revolutionize holiday lighting, and make that same lighting versatile enough to use year-round for everything from tailgate parties, to DJ booths, to architectural accent lighting. And they’re making it ridiculously fun in the process, thanks to the ability to control the lights, colors, and fancy-pants effects from a variety of recent smartphone and tablet devices. Our coverage of Lumenplay also features the first ever HomeFixated interview available in video, audio and transcribed text.
Lumenplay LED Lighting Interview – Audio Only Version
If you’ve priced LED holiday lights recently, you’ve likely noticed they’re not cheap. Lumenplay’s offering is certainly at the high-end of the pricing spectrum. However, when you consider the multi-use versatility and sheer fun-factor of these, we think they’re worth it. Even a single strategically placed strand can add some serious flair to your display, whether it’s for the holidays, parties, or turning your bedroom into a Vegas “club” (be sure to post pictures of that last one). And, if you’ve got the budget to deck out the whole front of your house, you just might find your house on youTube garnering millions of views. You might just be the next domestic Gangnam-style lighting superstar!
Just in case you’d prefer to read this interview rather than be forced to listen to and/or look at Marc Lyman of Home Fixated, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s the Full Video Transcript – Lumenplay LED Holiday Lights & More:
Marc: Hi there everyone this is Marc Lyman from HomeFixated.com and we’re doing something a little bit different today, I’m stepping out of the garage, we’re out of the shop and into the office to do our first ever video interview. I’ve got Chris Corrado here from Rigado and they’re working on a project called Lumenplay. Chris welcome to the show.
Chris: Thanks Marc, thanks for having us today.
Marc: Yeah, my pleasure. Your PR folks reached out to me recently and it’s a little early to talk about holiday lighting but I think we’re going to break convention and do it anyway. Give us a little rundown on Lumenplay.
Chris: Sounds great, well Lumenplay is a string light that you can control the color or effect, you can play games and you can also visualize music all from your smart phone device. Typically you’d see our lights as Christmas lights but they can also be used for tailgating, decks and patios and accent lights throughout your house.
Marc: Very cool, very cool. We have this sort of ongoing battle in our household or we did until last year. We’ve got one of these fake Christmas trees which I’m always lobbying for the real tree mainly because I just don’t want a fake tree taking up space in the man cave. It’s got these old incandescent bulbs on it and every year I have to spend about an hour with an electrical meter trying to figure out which light bulb went out. The big change obviously recently is LED holiday lights. You guys are taking LED lighting to the next level. How did this idea come about, who came up with it and how did it come to be?
Chris: Sure, so at Rigado we have a team of really smart engineers and about 20 percent of what we do is we just tinker with things around our house. We have small problems that we try to solve and actually my brother, one of our engineers, he wanted to do a kitchen remodel and wanted accent lighting in his kitchen that he could control from his smart phone. We took that and we looked at the type of lighting people used and the pain points people have and we saw that there was a fun opportunity to do string lighting that you could use for accent lighting or mood lighting or even decorating that man cave and changing between football and baseball season for tailgating seasons.
Marc: Very cool, so it gives you a lot of flexibility. In terms of the actual physical product itself I did a little homework and actually I did some math for your marketing department. You’ve got a lifespan listed of 20,000 hours on the LEDs is that about right?
Chris: That’s correct.
Marc: Yeah and so I probably did the math wrong but according to my calculations if you ran them 12 hours a day for the entire month of December, (pretty typical use for LED holiday lights), the product would last over 53 years.
Chris: You got it.
Marc: It’s not something that it sounds like you’re going to be replacing on a regular basis or every season and because it’s LED it’s obviously a lot more durable than the dreaded incandescent bulbs that we’ve had in the past right?
Chris: Yeah one of the really cool things about it is the bulb casing you can actually hit it with a hammer. One of biggest problems with strand lighting is you lose that light bulb or it breaks then you have to replace the whole strand or you have to go digging around to find out which one breaks. We’ve actually gone as industrial as possible to make these lights indestructible.
Chris: The other great part about it is cost savings. You’ll actually save up to $9 a month when you’re running it 12 hours per day by using these lights over your incandescent bulbs.
Marc: That’s great. I noticed you have sort of a tag line that says software is the soul of your project, tell us a little bit about that philosophy and kind of how that comes … how it shows in your product.
Chris: Yeah, so what everybody gets to see is the hardware, what’s on the outside and whether it’s in the form factor of a Christmas light or like what we have behind us is a DJ booth that we created with the string lights and a little bit of hardware project in the garage but what’s behind all that is a smart phone application, it’s available for both iPhone and Android and it does the controls. You can actually pick in real time what color you want, you can change effects or you can control your speed, your direction and also the brightness whether you’re inside or outside. Then our software team has even said why stop there? We’ve implemented games, there’s a twister compatibility mode or a present selector mode and there’s also a music visualizer that the lights will pulse to the music. On the outside you might see this as a strand of Christmas lights but on the inside you have a strand of lights that can do anything that you can imagine.
Marc: Are you hip to this family, I think it was the Cadger family in Meridian, Idaho, that did the dub step Christmas decoration every year that probably makes their neighbors totally insane.
Chris: One of the coolest things about Christmas lights is the YouTube viral ability of everybody putting up these Christmas displays.
Chris: Then the Griswold’s are one of our role models right now.
Marc: You hopefully won’t be shutting down any power stations even if you go the max on all your LEDs, you’re not burning quite as much power as the Griswolds I think.
Chris: That’s right.
Marc: How is all this controlled? My understanding is that basically from any type of recent smart phone you can control all this, is that accurate?
Chris: Yeah, so we have a Bluetooth low energy device that’s actually inline on the first strand of lights that you put up and that’ll connect to any Bluetooth SMART ready device. Your 4S, your iPhone 5, your iPad mini and your iPad 3 as well for Android you have the Samsung S3 and S4. We also have an Ethernet bridge that will allow those without the latest smart phones to be able to connect through their desktop computer.
Marc: Got you. I’m not familiar with Bluetooth SMART ready so what is the range on that, how close do they have to be to the lights to control them?
Chris: Yeah, we can actually be up to 150 feet away in direct line of sight. What we’re saying is 75 feet is probably where you’re going to see the devices working on a regular basis.
Marc: Okay so unless you’re living in a 12 story house you should be able to control it from outside it sounds like?
Chris: Definitely, you can be running the show on your driveway or you could be sitting on your couch playing with inside or outside lights.
Marc: Okay, very cool. I understand that these come in 10 or 20 foot strands. Even 30 feet can disappear pretty quickly in a lot of houses so are you guys planning to do longer lengths or is it just a matter of stringing those combinations together or what are the plans on that front?
Chris: What we wanted to do is create a really versatile strand that you could do anything you wanted with it. We sell them in 10 and 20 foot sections that you can link together. A 10 foot strand will let you do the front of your table at a tailgating event or the top of your mantelpiece for Christmas, so you can use it for multiple applications. What we wanted to do is be able to allow those with a mansion or who wanted to trim out their whole roof in one stand to be able to connect together. You can actually connect up to 17 strands for 350 feet of lighting together and it can all be on one simultaneous control.
Marc: Okay, very cool. I get the impression from what I read that you guys are kind of into the hacker ethic and that shows itself in some of your open source licensing and then I also understand that you can actually print your own bulb covers if you happen to be into 3D printing. Can you tell us a little bit about those two things?
Chris: Sure, we wanted to make this product customizable. You can do whatever you want with the lights and what we want to be able to do is allow people to be able to make their own sign displays like our DJ booth. Then if they have a special bulb design that they want to be able to go ahead and print that themselves. We have all those files that will be available on our website that the hacker maker community can go ahead and program whether they wanted to make a logo or if they wanted to make a happy birthday banner that rolls across the front of their house. We wanted to be able to allow them to have that freedom.
Marc: That’s very cool, the sky is the limit that’s basically just up to the user’s imagination and I guess whether or not they’ve got a 3D printer too that would help.
Marc: Very cool. You guys have a little bit of atypical … well I guess in these days not so atypical funding model and you’re trying to raise funds for this project through crowdsupply.com is that right?
Chris: That’s right.
Marc: I’m not familiar with crowdsupply.com but I am familiar with Kickstarter. What made you guys decide to go with Crowd Supply versus Kickstarter and tell me a little bit about the funding side of things.
Chris: So initially we were trying to figure out how do we bring this to market? We have completed this project a little bit late for the retail season and we were going to miss the opportunity to get this product out to market this year. What we wanted to do is find sales channels that we could take holiday strand lighting and get it into the households of everybody this year who is up on technology and wants to have that freedom and control. We figured out that crowd funding was a way to not only help fund the project but to get the project out for this year. We went with crowdsupply.com to help us with the fulfillment and to also give us a leg up on the marketing effort because as Rigado we’re a whole bunch of engineers that like to design cool things and solve problems in creative ways. We’re getting help from crowdsupply.com and crowd funding in general for the marketing effort.
Marc: Okay and so they’re not only helping you with the funding side of things but they’ll also handle fulfillment for you?
Chris: Yeah that’s one of the great things about Crowd Supply is they handle the fulfillment and distribution aspect.
Marc: You guys aren’t going from engineers to box stuffers when you get a million orders of these things right?
Chris: We’ve done a little bit of that before and we realized we’re better engineers than box stuffers.
Marc: Yeah, I can understand that. Your goal for the Crowd Supply project is $159,025 I just want to let you know if you guys ge to the 159,000 point and you’re short the 25 bucks I will pony it up for you!
Chris: We appreciate that!
Marc: Just give me a call if you’re short, all right?
Chris: Will do.
Marc: Do we have time for a little demo? Can you give me a little run down on maybe some different light combinations so we can see the lights in action behind you?
Chris: Yeah sure and I’m going to separate it between the DJ booth and then the light strand. I’m actually going to turn the DJ booth to a solid color for a second here.
Marc: Okay. You want to show what you’re doing … you don’t have to hold it up the whole time otherwise you’ll get a strained neck here …
Chris: I’ve got an iPad here and it has got the devices that we’ve connected to. I have three strands, strand one is the holiday lights strand that you can see behind me and two and three are actually the DJ panels that we’ve made behind us.
Chris: I’m going to connect to the DJ panels and it’ll pop up on the connected devices. I’ve actually got a color wheel that I can select whatever color that I want. In the background you can see the DJ panels changing from blue to green to red.
Marc: Very cool.
Chris: I’m going to leave it at a light pink so that my other lights show up. I’m going to go back to settings and I’m going to disconnect from the DJ booth and I’m going to connect to the holiday lights strand and I’m going to show you guys some of the custom-ability with the different effects that we can do.
Chris: A couple of days ago we had 4th of July so we have 4th of July lights going on with red, white and blue pattern and right now it’s solid color and I can actually get this to do effects where the lights behind us will move. Where I have control over the speed of the lights and how fast and how slow they go and then the direction so right now you’ve got the red moving one way so watch the red and we’re going to flip the way the red moves. Then we can also control brightness whether you’re inside or outside you can have the lights to the brightness that you want. Then you got real time control over the colors so if we wanted to change from red, white and blue to Mardi Gras.
Marc: I’m glad you know the Mardi Gras colors because I don’t have a clue what they are.
Chris: Well I used to be an entertainer for a circus so I’ve been at a lot of events.
Marc: Wow, okay you’ve got to do a different interview on that one.
Chris: Sounds good. We’ve got that, we’ve got some different effects that you can do, we have 10 effects built in. I’ll show you random twinkle on the lights behind me where the lights will just flash on and off every five seconds just a random light will appear.
Chris: Then I’ve got, I’ll show you that one when we get everything back up. A couple more of the effects here on the lights. We’ve got this one called stack and I’m not sure how much of the screen you can see but in the background you can see that the lights are actually going to go around the whole strand then they’re going to stack up on top of each other. When you hook 340 feet of lighting which is 510 lights on the front of your house it’ll slowly fill up the front of your house with the lights.
Marc: It’s almost like the stadium wave effect.
Chris: I’m going to hook up to all of them and I’m going to show you some of our really cool effects. This one is actually called the wave, so this will snake behind us on the DJ booth and also on top of the strand or it goes from one end to the other. The way we have our DJ booth set up is in a 6 by 10 grid that we made out of 1 by 2’s and we have butcher paper on the top.
Chris: Inside of each block we have a light and it’s a really cool set up that … you can check out some of the photos of the DJ setup that we have on lumenplay.com.
Chris: If you take this one a little bit further it just makes complete windows on the DJ set up that we have here. I want to show you guys the music feature, you can pick any color you want maybe. Trying to keep my hand on the right spot, pick any color that you want on the lights and we’re going to pick a deep purple or a blue for our music application and if you can see the background the lights are actually pulsing.
Marc: That’s very cool. Basically a lot of folks are going to be competing with that guy in Idaho for cool displays this holiday season, huh?
Chris: You got it and one of the really cool things is even I can do this as a … I’m the marketing guy here and I told the guys that I need to be able to pull this out of the box and I need to be able to download an app and it to work. We’re allowing anybody who has the ability to control the device with their smart phone to compete with their neighbors to have the best lighting display, you don’t have to spend months anymore. You get them out of the box, you put them on your tree or the front of your house, download the app and you’re ready to impress your neighbors.
Marc: That’s awesome. Tell us about price points. My understanding is this starts at about a little under $60 on crowdsupply.com, is that right?
Chris: Yeah, the 10 foot section will start at $59 and the 20 foot section starts at $89 and that gets you the starter strand with that Bluetooth low energy piece that I talked to you about earlier. Then additionally if you want to do the front of your house, the front of your house is typically between 15 and 80 feet depending on your house and additional 20 foot strands are $69 because we were able to remove that Bluetooth low energy piece to be able to make it more affordable.
Marc: Okay, awesome. Funding ends August 15th so for all you watching this head on over to crowdsupply.com. I think they can also get there through lumenplay.com is that right Chris?
Chris: That’s correct.
Marc: You’ve got all kinds of combinations to choose from there so if you want to get started you can do a single strand or you’ve got kits for multiple strands if you want to deck out the whole house right?
Chris: Definitely. Then the other cool thing is like our DJ booth it doesn’t have to be the form factor of a strand of lights. You can tweak that strand into something totally unique whether you’re doing something for your man cave or you’re doing maybe a kegerator and you want to decorate the outside of that or you’re doing something where you want a wall display like the DJ booth behind us.
Marc: Yeah it would be cool to see what all your users will wind up coming up with. You guys should have a section of your site dedicated to crazy user projects at some point.
Chris: Definitely, we think we’re even going to have some competitions to come out to see who has the best lighting display for different applications.
Marc: That sounds great. Well Chris I really appreciate your time. Everyone head on over to lumenplay.com or crowdsuppy.com and get your lighting!
Chris: Awesome, thanks Marc, thanks for having us on today.
Marc: My pleasure Chris, talk with you soon.
Here’s a little more detail from Rigado’s video promoting Lumenplay LED lighting: