Internet Connected Sports Memorabilia? It's Coming
Tom Spendlove posted on April 05, 2019 |
A Utah State enthusiast has built a wifi connected Block A sculpture that will light blue when the A...

John Swensen is an electrical engineer with a passion for Utah State sports. The Aggie Block A is a campus mainstay, erected in 1916 by the Be No Club and allowing students to become ‘True Aggies’ by kissing the monument on a full moon or during Homecoming. When a fan on the internet proposed in 2015 to create a replica block in his front yard to light up for school spirit, Swensen started to work on the idea of creating an ‘internet connect sports memorabilia device.’ After putting the idea aside for a few years he’s back at it and running a Kickstarter campaign for Lighting the A, an internet connected memorabilia devices.

The Block A in its current state is built around an Arduino compatible ESP8266 wifi board and the NeoPixel RGB LED chip. LEDs will glow white during normal days and blue when the Aggies win, with alternate colors available for holidays. An app lets the user choose which sports can trigger the Lighting the A. The entire system is approximately 4 x 4 x 4 inches and is powered with a wall adapter or through USB connection. After this crowdfunding campaign Swensen plans to build a final prototype, work through licensing the Block A design from Utah State University, create the Kickstarter pieces, and then sell the product commercially. The current prototype is built on a breadboard with 3D printed components.

Lighting the A is a good example of a project that starts as a maker building something to support a hobby but has an eye on mass marketing for not just fans of Utah State but easily transferable to fans of any college or professional sports team. Swensen attended a few more colleges racking up degrees and landed as a professor at Washington State University, so the next team represented might be a cougar using the Old Crimson color scheme. The campaign has not yet reached its goal of $6000 and ends on April 21, 2019.

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