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M2M technology powers a 70-mile-long art installation

Date: 20th September 2012
Topic: Switching On
Technology: M2M
Tags: Digi International

CONNECTING_LIGHT_015.jpgFor two days at the end of August, Britain’s greatest Roman monument, the 70-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, pulsated with colour, brought alive by an interactive digital art installation consisting of hundreds of interactive light-filled balloons.

Linked via a wireless network, the balloons transmitted colours from one to another. The installation, devised by the YesYesNo art collective and named Connecting Light, was part of the London 2012 Festival, a series of Cultural Olympiad initiatives across the United Kingdom. 

With more than 400 large balloons spanning the width of England, it provided a public demonstration of advanced machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, showcasing a communications technology that is enabling businesses to open new markets and compete in a highly connected world.

Mobile access

“Central control of widely deployed assets is the next phase of the Internet, and this is a great example of how technology can be used to take control of remote devices”, said Larry Kraft, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Digi International. “We created a system that allows anyone with an Internet or cellular connection to easily communicate with hundreds of interactive balloons scattered across England. It’s the same advanced infrastructure that municipalities use to connect street lights and variable message signs along highways, and that forward-thinking power utilities are using to network their entire grid.” 

The art project was connected by the company’s iDigi Device Cloud, a ready-to-use device cloud networking platform. This provided the backbone of the project, supplying the infrastructure required to access, control, configure and upgrade each illumination device securely over the Internet.

Remote management

For connecting to the iDigi Device Cloud, each Connecting Light balloon included a programmable XBee radio-frequency module. All together, the balloons created a vast ZigBee wireless network, which was linked via ConnectPort X4 cellular gateways to a custom application hosted on the iDigi Device Cloud.

The installation artists were able to easily monitor the status of the balloons and manage their light patterns remotely through the Connecting Light website. Spectators interacted with the balloons by sending commands and messages using their mobile phones.


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