In the News:
Firefly was featured in North West Tonight on 15th July.
If you missed it see it you can see it on BBC media player.

The Vision

The Firefly project envisions a world where every light source has an integrated computer, capable of self-organizing with its neighbours to form two and three dimensional ad hoc displays.

lights in tree

In essence, blurring the boundary between light and pixels.

More specifically, the project aims to develop:

The goal of the project is to investigate the feasibility of this concept through applying autonomous computing concepts to display technology at a fundamental level.

We envision the spray on display surface as the ultimate vision for Firefly!


There are many potential application domains for this technology, ranging from:

Moreover, this technology encourages incremental deployment - as more devices are deployed, the better the effect.

Finally, artists see this technology as a potentially new medium, with the ad-hoc deployment being key to public engagement.

We are currently active in evaluating large- scale deployments, and developing higher definition displays.


Lighting Elements. Every LED is integrated with a small microcontroller...

lightsThese devices are:

Control Elements. Interconnect networks of lighting elements to form larger displays.

Ad-Hoc Deployment and Visual Calibration

Lighting elements can be deployed in any configuration to suit the environment... Either in the field, or at time of manufacture.

Location of lighting elements is determined through computer vision techniques.

tree with camera               

Each light beacons its address visually via a robust visual code. Digital cameras in the environment can then identify and locate the lights using similar techniques to those applied in CDMA networks, up to 250 lights can be calibrated simultaneously.

Multiple camera angles allow the localization of lighting elements in 3D space through triangulation and linear optimization techniques...


Once calibrated, a digital model of the deployment is formed, that represents the location of all the light sources.

The Firefly API then provides software support to enable easy development of applications targeted at these displays, via:


CityLab Alight! Lancaster City Centre, December 2007 and onwards
CityLab display

Three thousand lights create a stunning display for Christmas shoppers in Lancaster Ciy Centre. Rising three stories the 7m by 5m window at the for of CityLab in Dalton Square Lancaster is filled with light. Strings of FireFly units hang in fluid cascades making the largest display yet. The statue of Queen Victoria stands in the middle of Dalton Square ... what would she have said?

See them yourself! – The City Lab lights remain in place, so if you are in Lancaster make sure you stop by ... just ask for Queen Victoria and you can't miss them. (maps: multimap, google)

Technology Matters InfoLab21, December 2006 and January 2007
girls experiment with firefly
Firefly launched at Knowledge Business Centre as part of one of the KBC regular Technology Matters series of breakfast events. Intense interest in the technology led to a dedicated breakfast event the following month..
Setpoint Science and Technology Day InfoLab21, September 2007
School children visit InfoLab and see Firefly in action. The SETPOINT event was targeted at girls from ethnic minorities in the Lancashire area.


Prof. Alan Dix, Dr. Joe Finney, Dr. Angie Chandler
Computing Department, InfoLab21, Lancaster University

Funded by HEFCE SRIF and Lancaster University Business Enterprise Centre and Knowledge Business Centre

infolab21 lancaster university