by: TechFarms, LLC
In late 2012, innovator and entrepreneur Jeff Elkins became obsessed with the emerging hydro sport known as Flyboarding. The sport uses the thrust generated by a personal water craft, or Jet Ski, to propel the rider to heights approaching 50’ above the water. Not content to fly just during daylight hours, Jeff envisioned nighttime flights illuminated by high-powered LEDs attached to his clothing.
Shortly thereafter, Jeff began collaborating with Dr. Steve Dunnivant at Gulf Coast State College’s Advanced Technology Center in Panama City. Dr. Dunnivant provided early support for Jeff’s idea and suggested that he take his invention to TechFarms where he could get access to facilities, equipment, and additional mentoring.
Soon after arriving at TechFarms, Jeff expanded his LED suit concept by adding electronics that would enable remote control of the LED lights on his suit by means of a wireless connection to a DMX lighting panel. Using the panel, technicians could remotely control the colors and sequencing of the LEDs for all performers and, when set to music, the results were truly stunning.
The suits are fabricated using a Lycra-spandex material and each suit is equipped with a radio that wirelessly connects to the DMX panel and memory card which contains the programs for the LED lights. The biggest technical challenge, however, was figuring out how to make the LED suits durable, waterproof, and impervious to saltwater. Once the suits were perfected, hydro sport entertainment shows worldwide begin hiring Jeff and his team to perform spectacular nighttime shows. When the team, originally known as Elkins Entertainment, added water-powered jetpacks with ultra high powered LEDs to the shows, the audience as well as the demand for nighttime performances skyrocketed. The team has been invited to perform in dozens of venues at locations not just throughout the US, but around the world, including Istanbul, St. Martin, Dubai, Sharja, Tokyo, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and France.
In 2016, Jeff and his business partner, Ben Merrell, renamed the company Liquid Motion Lights and soon after landed a lucrative contract with SeaWorld in San Diego. For years, engineers at SeaWorld envisioned nighttime performances, but were never able to build waterproof suits – a skill that Jeff had perfected over the years. Liquid Motion Lights was hired by SeaWorld to build waterproof LED suits for all the performers in their new show entitled “Cirque Electrique”. The show debuted in the summer of 2017 and was an enormous success. To date, the company’s LED suits have been used in over 200 nighttime performances worldwide. Jeff and his team continue to innovate at TechFarms and several new exciting inventions will be unveiled in the coming months. Stay tuned!