Halloween is choc full of fun traditions like tricking and treating, ninja costumes, and the extraction of pumpkin innards. We wanted to take a fresh look at the traditional jack-o’-lantern, so we stuffed a pumpkin with 256 LED pixels and built a web application that would let people customize their carving and share their creation with the world.

About Pix-O'-Lantern

About the project

Our aim was to carve some science into a Halloween tradition by jacking up a 45lb ground fruit. We began by replacing the innards of nature’s spookiest squash, the pumpkin, with 256 RGB LED pixels. We used a Raspberry Pi powered backend server to communicate with each LED pixel, and created a live drawing interface using JQuery with an HTML5 canvas. As the user drew or “carved” their image in the application, the color of the LEDs were modified bringing Pix-O’-Lantern to life in horrifying detail, and creating a jack-o’-lantern we could carve and re-carve, and carve again.



And, also because we were interested in live-streaming a creative interaction from one location to another. And that would have been enough. But we also wanted to capture the user’s creation, brand it and deliver it back to them. This gave the user creative control, but allowed the Pix-O'-Lantern brand to be part of the final shareable asset.

The resulting engagement was fun, encouraged sharing, and bridged a physical separation through technology while building an emotional connection through creativity.

The Pix-O'-Lantern app was a simple, intuitive way for users to draw on the pumpkin in real-time.
Pix-O'-Lantern large image

Since pumpkins rot a few days after carving, we set up a more stable testing environment for our grid of LEDs.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5… Yup, that's 256 hand-drilled holes. Our pumpkin was ready to be stuffed with electronics.
The final result of the experience was a branded image of each "carving," sent directly to the user's email address.