Thanks to the Internet, you can control this family’s Christmas lights

On, off, on off: Alaskan family invites you to control their Christmas lights

alaskan family lets strangers control their christmas lights
Maybe you were too busy to string up Christmas lights this year, or maybe you live in an apartment and can’t go for the full Griswold effect. Either way, if your holiday lights display is a little lackluster, you can always control the Woods family’s display.

Alaskan residents Ken and Rebecca-Ellen Woods live far from any neighbors in Fairbanks. That’s why, if you head to, regardless of the hour, you can control their holiday display. For six years, Ken, who works in information technology, has let strangers control the LEDs on his home and trees. Viewers watch via a “Christmas Cam” that streams the show as they flick light on and off, the BBC reports.

The result: Complete strangers are in control of the Christmas lights on this Alaska family’s home.

The couple learned a few tricks after the first year, when they only had a single string of lights. “A week into it, my wife turned to me and said, ‘Next year, these are going outside,” he told ABC News. “It was super annoying in the middle of the night.”

Ken wrote the software for the webcam that uploads the feed to the Amazon cloud and then his site, and built a box with a computer inside to run the lights. Clicking the link sends a signal to the server, which communicates with the power strip and shuts off or turns on the individual ports. He estimates his bill for running a larger display this year will be around $400.

The site gets so much traffic that it sometimes slows down the lights’ response time. It took a few seconds for the colorful tree to blink on when I tried it. Still, it’s nice to see someone’s having both a snow-covered white Christmas, and a colorful one.


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