FIFA World Cup: LEDs Celebrate Soccer

Iconic Christ the Redeemer statue lit up in LEDs to celebrate the FIFA World Cup in Brazil

Iconic Christ the Redeemer statue lit up in LEDs to celebrate the FIFA World Cup in Brazil

While the glitz and glamour of FIFA World Cup soccer remains on the field, others in Brazil are turning to LEDs to celebrate the tournament with light.  Even Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue is taking a role in the FIFA World Cup. The monument will be lit up with the colors of each country’s flag. This is possible due to a recent LED lighting retrofit of the popular tourist destination Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Completed in 1931, the famous statue had an LED light retrofit for its 80th birthday in 2011. Lighting company Osram replaced the outdated lighting system with 300 advanced LED projectors (from subsidiary Traxon Technologies).  These high-output spotlights are fitted with a special lens to precisely light the statue in alternating colors and different light intensities.

A special “Lighting Control Engine” aims each LED projector to light a particular part of the statue. The lighting can be programmed and controlled remotely providing energy efficient atmospheric lighting for the monument. The new lighting system saves time and resources for the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.

For Further Reading & Viewing

The Guardian, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer lit up in celebration of the World Cup – video,

NLB, Christ the Redeemer Monument in Rio de Janeiro Bathed in a New Light,

NDTV Sports, FIFA World Cup 2014 Opening Ceremony, Highlights: J-Lo, Pitbull Kick Off Biggest Mega-Event in Sao Paulo,

ECD Solutions, Brazil’s football stadiums install LED lights ahead of summer tournament,





Wearable LEDs – LEDs Go Upscale in Fashion

We’re all familiar with the use of LEDs in children’s sneakers when each step a child takes lights up an LED in a sneaker. Now, LEDs are going upscale in clothing with designers taking advantage of LEDs for aesthetics and even going high tech to highlight your mood.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

Swiss design house Akris’s Albert Kriemler used LEDs in his new ready-to-wear collection that premiered in Paris in March. Akris took cues from science and technology in designing his latest collection.  His latest show debuted two long evening dresses and a suit glimmering with constellations of tiny LED lights.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

Designer Elizabeth Bigger’s Lüme Collection brings LEDs to the simple black dress and black shirts.  The collection uses embedded LEDs that can be illuminated in patterns controlled from a smartphone to bring a little fun into the clothing.  According to an article in Gizmag, Bigger’s objective was to “create a series of garments that could adapt to the users daily life, changing in color depending on the event, location, mood, or even just to match another garment or accessory.” Using a link via Bluetooth to a smartphone, the LEDs in the clothes can even mirror your mood as posted on social media, the weather forecast, or any other data to which your smartphone has access. Recently, the Lüme Collection won the Jury Prize in the Aesthetic Category at the 17th International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

Sensoree's Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

Sensoree’s Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

While most clothing designers focus on aesthetic appeal, the designer of Sensoree’s Mood Sweater focused on the practical with a medical spin. Kristin Neidlinger created the sweater during her MFA design research at the California College of the Arts for people with conditions like autism or sensory processing disorders. The mood indicating sweater can help the sweater wearer actually see how they are feeling and project those feelings to others around them.

According to an interview with The Verge, Neidlinger says she thought of it as strictly a therapeutic device, while the fashion industry started to notice it for both its technical and stylistic creativity. The sweater uses sensors to detect a certain kind of sweat in the palms of the wearer’s hands that varies depending on the wearer’s emotional state, and then translates it into multicolored light emitted by LEDs.

For Further Reading

LEDinside, LEDs Hit the Runway in AKRIS RTW Fall 2014 Collection,, Lüme fashions feature flexible, programmable LEDs,

The Verge,

Ice Orchestra Lights Up with LEDs

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

We like to talk about applications of LEDs on Clearlysapphire. This might be one of the most unusual applications so far. The remote Swedish town of Luleå, near the Arctic Circle, features an orchestra with instruments made of ice and LEDs. Using an igloo that seats 170 people for an auditorium, the orchestra using ice instruments has been playing music for 15 years in Sweden and around the world.

American ex-patriot Tim Linhart makes each instrument in his back yard each year – from cellos and violas to an ice xylophone, guitars, congas and a banjo – out of ice.  The finely chiseled instruments take about a week each to build, but that’s not the hardest part of the process.  Being made of ice, you need to make sure that the instruments don’t melt when played. They are so fragile that even the heat from a player’s breath will make them out-of-tune.  And, of course, you need to play them in a suitably cold environment, an ice auditorium.

Linhart uses LEDs to light the instruments bringing an otherworldly feel to the concerts.  LEDs are a perfect medium for lighting the fragile instruments because they don’t emit heat along with light.  Traditional lighting would melt the instruments.

You can see the instruments with the LEDs and listen to a performance in this story from CNN.

For Further Reading

CNN, i(ce)-Tunes: Sweden’s incredible ice orchestra,

Shining Bright: Holiday LED Lighting 2013

‘Tis the season for LED holiday displays. Here’s a round-up of some rather interesting displays in 2013.

Rockefeller Center, New York, New York

This world famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a 75-year-old Norway spruce, is illuminated by 45,000 rainbow LEDs and features a 550 lb., 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star on top.

Rock Center xmas 2013 2






The National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

GE provided the design and lights for the National Christmas Tree for the 51st time this year. This year’s tree features 110 LED net lights and 225 LED string sets – all Energy Star® qualified, and 265 LED spherical ornaments. The total wattage is about 5700 watts – saving 80% energy as compared to incandescent holiday lights.  That’s equal to saving one ton of coal, and nearly a 5700-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

National Xmas Tree 2013





Trafalgar Square, London, England 2013

Each year since 1947 Norway’s capital city Oslo has donated Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square, to thank Britain for its support during World War II.  The tree stands 20 meters tall and features about 900 LED lights.

Trafalgar Square 2013 Tree






Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, this Rio tree is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world. Towering 85 meters into the sky, the tree floats slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) throughout the holiday season.  It features over three million microlights, two thousand strobe effects, one hundred meters of hoses and one hundred LED reflectors.

Rio X mas Tree






Delray Beach, Florida

The 100-foot tall Christmas tree is festively illuminated with over 15,000 LED lights, carefully decorated with 39,000 ornaments, and contains 3000 branches.

Del Ray Beach 100 Ft Christmas Tree







The Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan

The Caretta Shiodome, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, located in the elegant 51-story Dentsu Building, hosts the “White X’mas in the Sea” featuring a vast ocean of LED lights and an illuminated, animated display on the walls of the shopping center.  The light show incorporates interactive 3D projection mapping, allowing visitors to influence the appearance of the video sections of the illumination and the rhythm of the soundtrack by clapping their hands.  Here’s a link to a video showing how the display was put together as well as its premier complete with school kids clapping.

Tokyo Shiodome 2013 Xmas









For Further Reading, The Evolution of Christmas Lights – From Incandescent to LED,


LEDs Help Gravity Movie Makers Simulate Zero-Gravity

Sandra Bullock stars in the film Gravity (Warner Brothers)

Sandra Bullock stars in the film Gravity (Warner Brothers)










You may have seen news about the new George Clooney and Sandra Bullock movie Gravity. The movie details the story of how two shuttle astronauts deal with a shuttle accident while servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.  The movie includes stunning shots showing the actors floating in space.  One trick that the filmmakers used to simulate zero-gravity was LED lighting.

While many movies like Apollo 13 have used parabolic airplane flights to show zero gravity, the director of Gravity wanted longer shots.  The parabolic airplane flights only give you 20 to 30 seconds of weightlessness at a time, so director Alfonso Cuarón looked into alternatives.  Some scenes relied on the actors swimming underwater. Others suspended the actors from wires with puppeteers pulling strings while robots filmed from various angles.

However, the most surprising zero-gravity shot tool was a very large LED light box enclosure filled with thousands of programmable LED lights.  The lights were programmed to show scenes of Earth and space. With the actors inside the enclosure, robotic cameras captured close ups of the actors faces to simulate space.  While the actors were stationary, the light patterns were not, simulating motion and something that appeared to be weightlessness.  The nice thing about this technique was that the actors could see exactly what was happening so they could react to their visual references.  The various shots were blended into the final movie simulating zero gravity.

You can see the trailer here:

For Further Reading

NBC, Movie Tech: How ‘Gravity’ threw Sandra Bullock into zero gravity,

The Daily Beast, Alfonso Cuarón on the Making of His Instant Sci-Fi Classic ‘Gravity’,

LEDs in Action – Performance Art and Fish Bellies

Now that the summer is nearly over (in the US), we thought we might take a look at some fun applications of LEDs including performance art, art turned into football replays, and fish bellies.

Eugene, Oregon-based fiber optic toy company Ants On A Melon, has turned LEDs into performance art. Founded in 2012, the folks at Ants On A Melon have developed an artistic platform designed to share interactive fiber optic artwork.  Their LED performance art using jellyfish is just one example of what they can do with LEDs. You can see a video of the Jellyfish (pictured below) here.

Ants On A Melon, Jellyfish, Performance Art

Ants On A Melon, Jellyfish, Performance Art







The Dallas Cowboys new stadium, AT&T Stadium, is filled with art, including a new LED-based exhibit by LED artist Jim Campbell, “Exploded View (Dallas Cowboys) 2013.”  Exploded View features 2880 LED’s that flicker and illustrate plays in LED lights. A renowned LED light artist, Campbell specializes in low-resolution images.  From close up, the image is completely abstract, but from far away, the football play is recognizable. While we don’t have a video of this artwork, here’s a link to a video of Campbell’s Exploded View, Commuters.

Campbell’s artwork is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Jim Campbell's Exploded View, Dallas Cowboys

Jim Campbell’s Exploded View, Dallas Cowboys








While not performance art, the new LED art exhibit at Texas State University, San Marcos River in San Marcos, Texas, by public art designers Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock encourages interaction.  Designed to celebrate the biodiversity of the San Marcos River, Fish Bellies enables students to sit inside, study or talk while touch controls allow them to adjust the color and saturation levels of the LED lighting inside.

Fish Bellies at Texas State University, San Marcos River

Fish Bellies at Texas State University, San Marcos River








For Further Reading

The Dallas News, LED artist has created the 50th piece in the Cowboys Stadium collection,, LED Fish Bellies Celebrate Biological and Human Diversity in Texas,

LED Applications – Celebrating the Royal Birth in LEDs

London and the world celebrated the birth of the latest heir to the British throne, Prince George Alexander Louis, in style with LEDs.  A number of landmarks in London turned blue to celebrate the occasion and even a few outside of the UK turned blue in honor of the future king.  For a video, go to this BBC story.

The 600 foot tall BT Tower used more than 500K LEDs for the announcement:

royal baby BT Tower









The famous London Eye ferris wheel turned red, white and blue:








The fountain at Trafalgar Square marked the occasion in blue:

Trafalgar square






Even the London Bridge turned blue:

London Bridge in Blue






Not to be outdone, North America celebrated too with Niagra Falls turning blue:

Niagra Falls Blue






Toronto’s CN Tower:

Toronto CN Tower






Christchurch Airport in New Zealand turned blue too.

Christchurch Airport NZ






For Further Reading and Viewing

The BBC, Royal baby: London landmarks turn blue for birth, (video)

The Daily Mail, The world turns a Royal shade of blue,

The Art of Light – James Turrell Brings LED Light to the Guggenheim

Aten Rein

A rendering of James Turrell’s ‘Aten Rein,’ which uses LED lights and make use of sunlight from the museum’s skylight. (Source: James Turrell/Andreas Tjeldflaat/Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

One of the world’s most renowned artists working with light, James Turrell, is transforming New York’s Guggenheim museum with LED light.  The exposition, “Aten Rein,” opened on June 21 and runs through September 25.  The exhibit, six years in the making, will transform the museum itself into an exhibit of light using LEDs.

Aten Rein uses LEDs to light the rotunda of the iconic architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Turrell takes the natural light from the museum’s huge glass skylight and the museum’s unique shape to bathe the central rotunda area of the museum in a mixture of natural and LED light.  LEDs illuminate the five rings of the rotunda in bands of changing colors.  You can see how the column of light forms in the photo.

According to Turrell in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the name Aten Rein comes from the ancient Egyptian deification of light.  During the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, the Aten became the principle god of ancient Egypt.  Aten was the name for the sun itself. Turrell, world famous for his exhibitions in light, is also the subject of simultaneous retrospectives at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA.

For Further Reading

Wall Street Journal, Iconic Museum Seen in a New Light,

The Architectural Record, James Turrell at the Guggenheim,

The New York Times, How James Turrell Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet,