Building the apps for #HPCoachella

Music meets tech in the Coachella Valley


The word evokes hot, dusty California nights, swaying palm trees, glittering outfits, and, of course, throngs of starstruck concert-goers getting down before blindingly illuminated stages.

The Coachella Valley Music Festival is a cultural juggernaut, a fashionable jamboree over two weekends where people go to see and be seen. When April comes around, newspapers and magazines dial in on the bevy of celebrities, models, and social media “influencers” expected to attend the rollicking festival.

While the sine qua non of Coachella is — and always has been — the hundreds of bands and DJs that fly in from around the world, the festival has gradually expanded to incorporate more tech — especially as tech giants like Google and Hewlett-Packard have become major sponsors.

Funnel 33 partnered with HP and Infinity Marketing to create a suite of applications for HP’s Digital Eden, a dazzling, air-conditioned lounge bedecked with hanging flowers and featuring a lineup of groovy DJs.

Over two blisteringly hot weekends in April, thousands of people lined up outside the Digital Eden to escape the heat, listen to music, and try our applications.

To learn more about the apps we created, read on.

Light painting

We were challenged to create an app that people could easily take with them and share over social media. In that spirit, we developed an app utilizing AI that allows people to take a modified LED light and “paint” words or shapes in the air.

The app works this way. First, users stand in front of a camera and record a video of themselves drawing with the LED light. That video then gets sent to the application, installed on a computer, which tracks the light with AI and overlays the path of the light with color. Users can adjust the color of the light, the size of the brush stroke, as well as other options.

Once the video has been personalized, it is emailed to the user in an easily shareable format. People were encouraged to share their videos on social media platforms, like Facebook or Twitter, along with the hashtag #HPCoachella.

Hydration art

Coachella takes place in the middle of a dusty desert. It’s hot from the moment the festival grounds open to the time the last show ends. In that kind of environment, water becomes even more important than normal.

What better way to attract people to the Digital Eden than by offering free water bottles?

Using an accessible painting app we developed specifically to utilize and highlight the HP PAVILION x360 PC unique 3–1 capabilities, built in Inking technology and HP Pen. Users got the opportunity to design a unique composition that was then printed off by an HP Latex printer, applied to a water bottle by professionals, and handed to the user.

Because it can be difficult to turn a blank canvas into a work of art in no more than a few minutes on a computer, we built quick-start aids into the app to make it easier for users to get started. Attendees could select from pre-designed “coloring pages” or “stickers” designed by our creative team. Users were then able to fill in these outlines with the paint tool in either solid or gradient colors. The stickers could be sized, rotated and moved, and the brush used for free drawing.

Users could select next for a 360 rendering of their art on the bottle for an easy preview of the finished product.

Custom water bottle designs on display at the Digital Eden

This proved to be an especially popular application — so much so that the HP brand ambassadors, to keep the line moving, had to discourage users from spending more than five minutes working on their designs. Users enjoyed the range of artistic options provided by the app, and many created some truly inspiring art.

LED flowers

The third application we built allowed users to manipulate the colors and ‘blooming” for a series of LED flowers strung from the ceiling of the Digital Eden. The large custom-built flowers used a pneumatic system to open and close. Through the app, users could change the color of the lights on the inside and outside of the flowers, or select from a series of predefined color-changing sequences.

When not in use, the LED lights would go dark and the leaves would close up, mimicking the nyctinastic activity of certain plants.

A dazzling display

The blooms stole the show, often causing people on the floor to look up, mouths agape, whenever the they unfurled with a whoosh and cast a warm glow upon the tent.

Agile development, made (almost) effortless

Our passion is to build engaging, technically creative apps—and we do so with alacrity. Over the span of a few intense, hyper-focused weeks, we designed and implemented the three apps described above, using the agile framework approach to software development.

As a small army of florists, lighting professionals, and production crews assembled the Digital Eden in the days leading up to the first weekend of Coachella, we hauled in our computers, deployed the apps, tested them extensively, and debugged them as issues came to light.

By the time the polo grounds opened Friday morning, our apps were ready for the flood of attendees who strolled into the Digital Eden looking for air conditioning, a place to rest their legs, and a medley of digital distractions (and a free water bottle!).

We’ll see you next year, Coachella.