It all started with a haunted house in 2009. Robotics engineer Quan Gan and his designer girlfriend Charlie Xu met at Intel and talked about creating something that combined their skills --- inspired by the interactivity of the Halloween events in the US, they decided to produce the first Halloween haunted attraction in mainland China: they called it “Shanghai Nightmare”. The event was a first year success bringing over 20,000 visitors to a 10,000sqft warehouse with some guests willing to wait over 8 hours just to see it! (Obviously, the founders had to quit their corporate jobs by this point.)
One of the key elements that made their show a success was the lighting design. Realizing a potential market in specialty lighting for dark attractions and space constrained environments, Quan and Charlie teamed up with Cree LED technologist Jerry Dong to found Darklight in 2010, a manufacturer of LED fixtures for the entertainment lighting market. Over the next few years Darklight became the “goto company” when it comes to compact and rugged lighting fixtures with installations in most major amusement parks and haunted attractions in the US.
In 2014 the company rebranded from Darklight to Gantom to enter new markets. Gantom is a combination of Quan’s last name and “phantom”, a nod to its roots. They partnered with BlinkFX, a manufacturer of controllable LED wearables for large scale events to find new applications. With roots in the Halloween industry, Gantom tested the market for controllable guest devices for haunted attraction applications.
The Gantom Torch was the first product produced in partnership with BlinkFX: a flashlight with output that is synchronized to the show. Haunted attractions give the Gantom Torches to their guests to explore their environment with a false sense of control, the show can then turn a guest’s Torch off on command or even give them a startling vibration, all in sync with the thunder clasps of the show. The Gantom Torch brings in the elements of a first person video game with force feedback to the real world, offering the guests a new level of immersion that suspends their disbelief.
While developing the Gantom Torch, zombies became a popular theme. Zombie themed laser tag, paintball, and even mud runs were trending. However these games were guests vs. actors… never guests vs. guests. ZTag was created to change the game as a low cost player vs. player game that any venue with some open space can host. ZTags allow human players to complete missions while avoiding zombie players. A zombie ZTag will “infect” a human ZTag by proximity, thus creating another zombie ZTag. Once again, Gantom Live! brought video game elements to the real world.
The popularity of Gantom Live! products has been ever growing. Recently at IAAPA 2015, the Gantom Torch technology won the prestigious Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement. The future of Gantom Live! is an exciting one with endless possibilities.
ABOUT IR TECHNOLOGY
Gantom Live! is applying infrared (IR) technology as an affordable means of wireless multi-player interaction. IR communication has been around for decades, its ubiquitous presence in TV remotes and other household electronics makes it a great candidate for low cost communication at a decent range. IR being line-of-sight offers some major advantages over radio frequency (RF) communication:
- Transmitters and receivers are much cheaper.
- Signals can be easily localized and contained within a room, this is excellent for location specific communication, RF will radiate through walls.
- IR strength is highly tunable and scalable, we can control devices from a few feet to several hundred feet away.
- Avoids all the noise of RF, most consumer wireless devices are on 2.4GHz and may have interference when many are used together in the same space.
By using IR for our wireless technology, we can provide scalable low cost infrastructure for entertainment venues to implement immersive guest experiences.