I've been interested in lighting effects and visualization of sensory input for quite some time. LEDs are spectacular devices because they are so incredibly versatile. I've specifically become interested in RGB LEDs, which have 3 dies in one package, one for each color. Furthermore, I find the high power LEDs to be particularly amazing. I've done a lot of work with these LEDs, which can do 350mA per channel. They're extraordinarily bright.
The largest installation of LEDs I've done is with the Next House Party Lighting System, 24-instrument system that surrounds an entire basement area. I was part of a team of 5 that designed this system. The end result was fantastic; our dorm now has what most consider to be the most advanced lighting system on campus and we've thrown some spectacular parties with it.
Anyways, the idea ultimately for the project came when a few friends and I began discussing building lighting systems for our rooms. I came up with the concept of ACRIS (Audio-Controlled Room Illumination System). The first design would use an FPGA for sound processing and wasn't going to modular at all. However, I never had the time to work out the long development cycles associated with using FPGAs for large-scale projects.
Now, using what I learned from my design of the electronics for the Next House Party Lighting System, I've designed generic, modular LED controllers that are very easy to interface with. They can be controlled by a computer, an FPGA, a microcontroller, etc.
Hopefully, the LED controller boards are generic enough so that others will use them. I wanted to alleviate a lot of the engineering burden on those who want to make their own lights so that they can focus more on the creative process.