Abilene Christian University


  • Challenge

    Combine creativity and technology to create a unique and engaging experience for ACU’s community.

  • Solution

    Enhance the quad with a smart light installation that encourages discovery with both physical and digital interaction.

  • Results

    A weatherproof field of over 20,000 LEDs across 350 reeds, and a software platform to allow computer science students to tinker.

How do you make the smartest college quad in the world? Abilene Christian University wanted to showcase the harmony of art and science in their quad — a newly renovated space usually reserved for tossing frisbees and studying. ACU decided to engage the university community with an interactive light installation that also celebrated student creativity. We worked with the ACU Maker Lab and Computer Science department to build a first-of-its-kind dynamic IoT light installation, as well as a platform on which students could program new effects.

  • EXECUTION A Truly Interactive Piece of Hardware

    With passive infrared motion sensors and a web app built for user input, this installation is primed for interaction. Visitors of the quad can pull out their phones and customize multiple effects that are triggered by motion (active) or that simply light up the walkway in fun patterns (passive). Effects can also be layered, producing dynamic foregrounds and backgrounds. Use the simulator below to try it out for yourself:

  • TECHNOLOGY Crafting a Platform

    We developed a software platform that allows computer science students to write new effect code and compile and test locally on a small scale. The platform also has a comprehensive fleet management dashboard that deploys updates to 35 tiny computers in the ground, plus a slick web app for onlookers to interact with and serve up effects.

    Why Connecting Hardware with the Web is So Neat
    Eli Fatsi, Former Development Director

  • PROCESS Custom Design & Collaboration

    Crafting a custom installation in 2 months (not to mention nearly 800 miles from our nearest office) took hard work and a mix of collaboration tools — from sharing videos of prototypes and video chats to review custom manufactured parts to shared spreadsheets for testing wifi signal strength in an open patch of campus.

    Making Interactive Art
    Justin Sinichko, Former Hardware Developer


We delivered a smart and durable installation paired with a powerful yet customizable web application to encourage interaction among university community members. Built on top of state-of-the-art technology, this unique experience now illuminates a special location in the heart of ACU to inspire and connect.