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The 4th of July, Fireworks, and Tech

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Across American, hundreds of Fourth of July firework shows will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this situation saddens us, as millions of Americans will miss out on a summer tradition, it opens the door for people to celebrate in new ways, like with technology.

I began to think about the technology that goes into fireworks. Sure, a controlled blast in and of itself is an amazing feat. But what about some of the firework shows that are synced to music? Or the firework shows that are synced with laser lights? I thought to myself, there is no way that this done by hand. There has to be some sort of technology system behind all of this. There is no way someone could get the timing right just by eyeballing it.

So I had some extra time with with everything being shut down with COVID - turns out, just like every other industry, software is heavily involved. In fact there is software that is used to design every aspect of a firework show. By everything, I mean from the timing of a firework being shot off, to the type of firework that is launched. All aspects of a firework show can and are controlled by software.

One of the more interesting points that came up in multiple different articles in my research is how software plays such an important part in the timing of firework shows. In many firework shows, for safety reasons, fireworks are launched far away from where the viewers are. This brings up an interesting point about physics, in that light travels faster than sound. Meaning, getting the music to be in sync when a viewer could potentially be a mile away from where the firework is shot off could be a very difficult task!

In fact, a large job of the software involved in these shows is to tackle the very difficult task of getting all of the timing right.

There are also multiple different software solutions that allow people to design firework shows digitally. Then, there is an electronic computer board that will launch the firework shells and is controlled by the software. Basically, all the hard work is done by software. Very cool!

To learn more about this topic of fireworks and tech, listen to Atsap's co-founders, Antonino Febbraro and Collin Dreher, talk about this in the next episode of Byte Club. Premiering next week on all podcast platforms!!

While we might not be able to celebrate the Fourth of July by watching fireworks, we could all take a second to understand how the technology in firework shows are easily overlooked, and so when we see them again next year we can appreciate them even more.

Happy Fourth!


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