Most of the USA viewers never got a chance to see this, but for all the other news networks that didn't cut off the last performer (K-OS) you may have seen twenty Zygote spheres glowing, bouncing and hovering around BC Place during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics closing ceremony.
The Zygote is a concept that Tangible Interaction has been developing for several years, appearing at various live shows culminating in the Winter Olympics. The spheres are about six feet across, lightweight, and filled with helium, floating slowly across the crowd and changing color every time they bounce.
Late last year Alex at Tangible Interaction contacted me to redesign and build a lot of the controller core and LED panels for these. The design includes an integrated Arduino design running at 20MHz with custom bootloader, accelerometer, Zigbee, lithium-ion charger, LED power supply and controllers, and 48 watts of LEDs.
Here's a short video of the action: Zygote Balls at 2010 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Vimeo
Here's a cool Flickr photoset: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tangible/sets/72157623531745678/
Here's my blog entry mostly complaining about NBC : macetech at the Olympics: Zygotes | macetech.com