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27 Oct 2016, 11:21

How do you view Fireworks?

It is at this time of year that on my travels to and from work I start seeing signs springing up everywhere about the local Fireworks Display and it got me thinking how has modern Technology affected what we get to see today and how might this change in the future.

How Fireworks are made have changed very little since their invention it still basically  A SHELL, AN EXPLOSIVE, AND A FUSE. Originally fireworks where only orange and white but now with modern fireworks we get to see many other colours and with the use of Electronic timers used to explode the shells via a launch system it allows accuracy in timing so that you what we get to see today is far more spectacular than ever before.

The only technological evolution I could find is that fireworks designers are starting to use compressed air instead of gunpowder, which is safer and allows for greater precision. Disney developed a tiny computer chip that carries not only the charge for igniting the shell, but also the timing information that allows the ignition to be much more accurate than a conventional shell. 

By controlling the pressure of the compressed air determines how high the shell will reach. A sensor is attached to the shell which allows the user to control when it is to ignite and explode. This allows the bursts to be timed exactly with the music and is normally done through a radio transmitter. The chips cost about 10 pence each and has to be installed in the shells at production. The chip does it ALL. Without the advances in technology this would never have been possible.

With such precise control over altitude and ignition time, all kinds of new creative effects are possible. 

But then I thought about the next big thing that everyone is talking about Virtual Reality! Do we even need to leave our homes to watch a firework display can you have the same experience by staying at home and simply putting on a VR headset.

One of the entry points into VR are 360 Videos, of which there many already available to view online.  However I also  discovered Firework displays that have been filmed using Drones so that you get to experience something entirely different again, a view of the explosions from above and right in the centre something that you would never get to experience standing out in the cold looking up.

One of the better 360 Videos I discovered which can be viewed with an inexpensive Headset view was Melbourne 2016 New Year’s Eve, here you can experience the Fireworks on all sides.

You could try this out for yourself, build the 360-camera project using Raspberry Pi, film your local Firework display and then experience this in the Virtual World which is best? Is there anything missing  in the VR world, or is it better?

Part 1:   Building-a-raspberry-pi-360-camera_Part 1

Part 2 :  Building a Raspberry Pi 360-video-camera-part-2

The 360 videos are an entry point into Virtual Reality however as the headsets progress and the Technology evolves, will it ever be able to replace the Traditional Firework display that is all so common in today’s world will they become a thing of the past!

What is the best option standing out in the cold or be in the comfort of your own home, submersed in Virtual Reality. Who knows what will happen in the future will I still keep seeing signs going up for Fireworks displays or will the evolution of Virtual Reality take over from having to stand out in the cold and looking up, you decide! 


Carol N has not written a bio yet…

27 Oct 2016, 11:21


March 3, 2017 15:55

Nothing beats standing out and watching the fireworks for real - the smell, the sound, the feeling.

Virtual reality is cool but its only a shadow of the real thing

November 2, 2017 12:56

@saabaus agree completely, nothing compares to the real thing. Although the dog much prefers me watching in VR than the big bangs!