PixMob’s job is to make performances interactive and immersive; they typically do this by embedding LEDs into objects that an audience interacts with. They’ve dropped LED-filled beach balls onto audiences, turned raving crowds into a pixelated mob with LED-fueled wristbands and set flight to swarms of firefly-like objects that shimmer over crowds.
In the case of the Super Bowl halftime show, PixMob embedded three LEDs and an infrared receiver into each stocking cap. The stadium was outfitted with 14 transmitters which beamed video onto the audience, almost like a matrix creating a virtual map. “We’re essentially dealing with invisible data,” Leclerc explained. Depending on a person’s location, his or her hat’s receiver decoded the infrared signal differently, turning it into visible red, green or blue light to create the animated effects.
Leclerc compares it to an extremely low-res TV screen. “Eighty-thousand people sounds like a lot,” he said. “But when you look at it on a computer screen, 80,000 pixels is not much.” Though it would have been cool, this is why you didn’t see crisp, highly-detailed video feedback of Bruno Mars being reflected in the audience. Instead, PixMob used bright colors and bold movements to achieve their effects.
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