NBA Finals Light Up with IoT

Create: 06/09/2017 - 15:04
pixmob nba IoT

Photo: PixMob


The Golden State Warriors basketball team are masters at creating game-time splash. This year in the NBA Finals they have some competition—from the crowd. One of the biggest splashes to happen in the big NBA match-ups this season is the addition of PixMob flashing LED fan wristbands. The smart IoT wearables were distributed to each of the 20,562 fans in attendance for game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

PixMob provides crowd lighting wearables to the Cavs and three other NBA teams: the Sacramento Kings, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Indianapolis Pacers. In addition to the NBA finals in Cleveland, the PixMob wristbands were used at each of the team’s respective home openers this season.

Fans Are Aglow

In an interview with, Cavaliers chief marketing officer Tracy Marek described how the bands perform during the games. She noted that while fans were not sure at first about what the bands would do, their purpose became clear when the bracelets lit up in synchronized fashion during The Star-Spangled Banner. In some arena sections the lights turned red, other sections turned white, and in others the wristbands glowed blue.

They continued to flash at irregular intervals throughout the game, coordinated with the entertainment during breaks in the action. Marek says the operation is very straightforward, as an antenna in Quicken Loans Arena sends out signals that trigger each bracelet. The Arena staff decided before the game when they will coordinate the devices with sound. During a Cavalier Girls dance, for example, the wristbands light and pulse with the music.

Marek notes that an operator can also send a signal that lights up all the wristbands spontaneously, at key moments of the game. For example, if LeBron James pushes the ball down for a dunk, the operator can activate all the wristbands to celebrate the score.

The bracelets aren’t placed haphazardly, Marek explains. Because the wristbands in different sections flash different colors, the staff ensures each bracelet is in the right place when fans start filling in. Post-game, the bracelets are reset so that they flash every time they are shaken, and they continue to work until the battery runs out, which is typically 4 to 7 days.

What’s Inside

PixMob’s wristbands contain high brightness LEDs, a coin cell battery, and a motion sensor. The LEDs are controlled by an infrared signal from a group of transmitters, directed from a central control system. As the band receives a signal, it goes through a tiny 8-bit microprocessor that lights up RGB LEDs embedded in the wristbands, transforming each individual into a light pixel. The PixMob technology works with standard light board consoles using DMX or ArtNet protocols.

PixMob NBA does IoT

Photo: PixMob

The technology has four different types of features, depending on the desired effect: PixMob IMPACT, PixMob LITE, PixMob PRO, and PixMob VIDEO. These wireless control options allow for motion-activated commands all the way to 18-bit full color video display.

The company notes that the same person that controls the stage lights typically will control the wristbands, with the same console. That allows the technician to integrate the PixMob lighting objects with the overall crowd experience. The technician can choose to have different sections of a venue react in unique ways in terms of light and duration, allowing for color variations and even spinning effects.

Setting up the experience requires installing a series of infrared transmitters across a venue. The range of the typical transmitter is about 100 meters (328 feet). For an arena, the company uses about 16 transmitters. A large stadium would require 32 to 48 transmitters.

The Fan Base

PixMob IoT wearables are not just for hoop fans. The company’s technology has been used by more than 5 million people in 20 countries on five continents, lighting up everything from Taylor Swift concerts to the Super Bowl to the Sochi Winter Games to hundreds of corporate events.

The company has also developed an engagement platform for events, called Klik. It includes a smart badge or other wearable sensor that allows conference attendees to collect points by engaging and attending sessions. Conference producers can use the wearables to collect attendee data, including connections made and activity.

A Virtual Slam Dunk

In addition to PixMob, the Cavs have incorporated other networked technology to create a richer fan experience. For example, the Cavaliers activated a virtual reality feature for playoff games in 2016. In conjunction with team sponsor Budweiser and Pittsburg, PA-based technology provider YinzCam, the Cavs distributed a limited number of free cardboard headsets customized with virtual reality as fans entered the arena.

The headsets worked in tandem with the team's mobile application embedded with virtual reality. The Cavs are the first NBA club to incorporate the technology into their mobile app, team officials said.

The Cavs produced a series of virtual reality videos that fans could view through a smartphone or by attaching their device to the headset. For those using the headsets, the technology works by inserting the smartphone into the front of the headset, then looking through its special lens at the screen of the device that’s streaming the virtual reality content.

Fans watching the videos on their mobile device, either as a 360-degree video or enclosed in the headset, are immersed in the environment. They have the ability to pan and rotate their device or headset to view the panoramic videos from different angles and perspectives, simulating a real basketball experience.

Get in the Game

Find out how PixMob is lighting up business with IoT wearables. Learn more about the Klik wearable technology for audience engagement. See YinzCam’s technology line-up which includes venue apps, team apps, in-stadium replays, beacons, and crowd analytics. 

About Author

Melanie McMullen
Melanie is an expert technology writer who specializes in covering the IoT, cloud, mobile computing, and emerging technology markets. Melanie has held top editorial and content development positions at, Internet Business magazine, and LAN Magazine. She has written hundreds of global business technology articles and blogs and co-authored The Standard for Internet Commerce.

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