AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A University of Akron computer technician is letting people all around the world control his Christmas lights this year.
Tom Hammond, a computer lab support specialist at UA's Wayne College, designed a program which lets people control the lights on his house from their own computers.
"Living in a rural area, I don't get to participate in the urban holiday light extravaganza," said Hammond. "I always wanted to be part of a community holiday lights display and thought this technology would be a great way to interact with people near and far. I love that people are able to see and customize my holiday lights."
[endif]Hammond says that people in Colorado, Germany, China and Australia have all logged on to control his lights. The first evening the lights were on, he had over 800 changes after sending just one Facebook post about the website.
Hammond's program includes three components: a microcomputer, a microcontroller and light-animation software. People can set the lights to do butterfly, pinwheel, twinkle effects and more. In the future, Hammond hopes to add a 17-foot pixel tree that can show animations and cartoons as well as lights that are synced to music.
"There are many cities around the world that have internet-controlled lighting displays, but control is usually limited to city officials," said Hammond. "There are a handful of homes with internet light control systems, but those simply turn the lights on and off. My system allows people to literally paint my house with colorful effects."
The lights will run from 5:30 p.m. until 12 a.m. every night until Jan. 7. You can change them online, as well as watch a live-video stream of the house, by going to http://itwinkle.org.
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