Coldplay’s Wireless Hardware Startup

I was amused to see a company with the same name as the musical group Coldplay file an FCC application. That turned to surprise when I saw it was, indeed, the group.

Coldplay filed an application and accompanying exhibit on January 20, 2012, for special temporary authority to transmit an RF signal that would control a lighting display during its performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards held February 12 in Los Angeles. Specifically sought was permission to transmit a 60 kHz-wide signal centered on 869.5 MHz. That frequency, in Los Angeles, is licensed to AT&T; Coldplay said it had already received AT&T’s consent for its temporary use. The specifications included frequency-shift keying (FSK) and a transmit power of less than one watt.  The application was approved by the FCC on January 27.

According to the exhibit, “Coldplay has recently integrated a distinctive, innovative audiovisual component into its live performances throughout Europe. Specifically, in recent performances, each audience member has received a Light Emitting Diode (“LED”) wristband that is synchronized with the group’s music and stage lighting. These wristbands, which are controlled by a single, centrally located radiofrequency transmitter flash en masse in coordination with the band’s music and stage lighting to create a stunning visual effect throughout the concert hall while simultaneously enabling individual audience members to immerse themselves in the live performance. Coldplay seeks STA authority from the FCC to test and demonstrate the underlying RF transmitter that provides command/control instructions to the aforementioned LED wristbands during its performance at the 2012 GRAMMY Award Show.”

As for the public interest, Coldplay said, the light show would make “a significant contribution to the advancement of modern performing arts.” It cautioned the FCC that not granting the application would “potentially degrade the entertainment value of the GRAMMY Awards broadcast.” Perhaps knowing the FCC’s reputation in fostering creativity, Coldplay bolstered its argument saying that the light show would also enable it and the “underlying developer of this technology to gauge the interest and demand in the United States market for such performance innovations.” Looking beyond the application, I found one report saying Coldplay is part-owner in RB Concepts, the company that makes the wristbands.

The quality of this video clip is not so great, but you can see the the wristbands activating several times, starting at 1:55:

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