Using Science To Throw A Killer Party

Biometric data lets performers gauge their audience’s interest in a scientific way and tailor their performance accordingly.

Wearable tech is used mainly in the world of health and fitness. But arts and technology platform Lightwave has brought it into a different (if equally sweaty) space: the raging dance party. With real-time data analytics drawn from sensor-equipped wristbands, Lightwave visualized how partiers’ body temperatures rose when the DJ A-Trak played electronic/dubstep musician Skrillex at a concert earlier this year–and how a bribe of free booze made heart rates spike.


“This new type of audience sentiment data leads to better events and better fan experiences than ever before possible,” Lightwave creator and CEO Rana June tells Co.Design. Although her background is in big data and analytics, June is best known as one of the first major iPad DJs. She created Lightwave to fuse her experiences with music and data.

At South by Southwest this year–at the Pepsi Bioreactive Concert, deejayed by A-Trak–event attendees donned Lightwave’s sensor-equipped wristbands, which measured their body temperature and audio and motion levels. This data was transmitted wirelessly to Lightwave’s system, which created interactive visuals that represent audience members as pixels, and which also triggered confetti and smoke machines and unlocked boozy prizes.

Now, Lightwave has released an elaborate visualization of the party’s alcohol and dubstep-altered biodata, arranged in a song-by-song timeline of the concert. When A-Trak says “Show your energy,” the crowd delivers, with temperatures spiking. The moment the beat drops on Skrillex’s NRG, you see the biological effects of a crowd going wild. The hotter and sweatier they got, the more rewards they’d unlock.

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Lightwave isn’t just for making arty visualizations and other cool party tricks: The data gathered lets performers gauge their audience’s interest in a scientific way, and enables them to tailor their performance accordingly. June knows from her own experience as a DJ how groundbreaking this is. “Before the experience of performing live, I didn’t understand the lack of real-time data available to artists and performers and how static much of the current live performance technologies are,” she says.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.