IGNITE lets GLOW audience dance together again

Team IGNITE made use of the quiet corona days to reinvent itself, students Thom Smits and Lynn Visser say. The team will present itself to the world again in November during GLOW with its light installation Ballroom. In the meantime, IGNITE has set up a crowdfunding campaign to become more independent.

Team IGNITE exists since 2016. Light art festival GLOW visited the campus in honor of that year’s university lustrum, so why not design a very own TU/e light artwork? Industrial Design and Built Environment students came together and founded IGNITE for that purpose.

Fast forward to 2021. TU/e’s campus grounds will once again be a part of GLOW, which takes place between 6 and 13 November. Team IGNITE still exists, but it is now made up of a completely new generation of students, team member Thom Smits (20) says. When the organizers of GLOW were forced to cancel the previous edition of their light art festival due to the corona measures, the members of IGNITE decided to spend the extra time they had in a useful way, the third-year Industrial Design student says.

Bringing people together

They sat down together to rephrase IGNITE’s vision. It was decided that the team must aim to investigate how it can use light technology to bring people together – specifically individuals that are part of large crowds in public areas of large cities.

Apart from the artistic factor – creating a jaw dropping light artwork – the team now also has a societal goal, as well as the desire to contribute to knowledge development. Light has the unique potential, Smits believes, to create a sense of community and solidarity. “Think of the euphoric feeling people can experience during a light show.”


With that new vision in mind, IGNITE developed its installation for GLOW 2021: Ballroom. Smits and his fellow team member Lynn Visser (23, master’s student Industrial Design) choose their words carefully when they talk about Ballroom, because they don’t want to give away too much of the wow factor.

“It’s a modern ballroom, which will be located in the Markthal at MetaForum, where twelve shining ‘dancers’ (moving spotlights) will invite visitors to join the dance.” That’s perfectly in line with the theme of GLOW 2021: Moved by Light. And it also matches the sense of relief that people feel now that they can finally go out onto the dancefloor again post-corona.

Student orchestra Quadrivium recorded the dance music, and it will play live during the final evening of GLOW.

The technological crux is in the twelve so-called moving heads: the lamps that follow individual visitors with sensors and that can even predict their movements. For the necessary algorithm and infrastructure, IGNITE collaborated with the Crowdflow Research Group of the Applied Physics Department, where Alessandro Corbetta recently won an Ig Nobel Prize for his research into people’s behavior in crowds.

Curious passers-by

Smits: “The Markthal already has a grid with sensors. For some time now, two team members from Computer Science have been going there twice a week to set everything up.” Since curious passers-by kept asking them questions, the two programmers decided to have a printed QR code next to them so that they can get on with their work.

QR codes also come in handy during the research that is linked to project Ballroom. It won’t be an extensive research project, Smits says as he lowers the expectations, but a small-scale qualitative study “Based on a survey, which visitors can fill out via a QR code, we want to determine whether our light installation actually increases that sense of solidarity.”


Apart from the preparations for project Ballroom, team IGNITE’s fifteen members are also occupied with a crowdfunding campaign. Secretary Lynn Visser designed the campaign together with treasurer and initiator Maarten van den Elshout, who is a student at Fontys. Donors will receive a VIP arrangement for GLOW, with perks such as a hot beverage or an exclusive ballroom show.

Why does IGNITE need extra funding? Visser explains: “IGNITE is an Innovation Space team and, unlike TU/e’s official student teams, we don’t have our own budget. But we’re a foundation and we have fixed costs for our website and bank account, for example”

The team would like to become more independent and hopes that it will one day no longer need to ask larger parties such as TU/e or GLOW for help each time there’s a bill to pay. In addition, the team would like to be able to carry out the entire trajectory, from concept to realization of their own light installation, fully independently. However, until they’ve raised the necessary sum of 4,500 euros, they find much inspiration in smaller projects, such as conceiving cases for USE, the master’s kick-off and the Eindhoven Technasium. “We’re also collaborating with the municipality on a one-of-a-kind project, about which we can’t say anything yet,” Visser says.

In the long term, IGNITE would like to try to obtain the accreditation to become an official student team, she says. “But we’re really happy right now with the support and inspiring community within innovation Space.”

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