DOYLESTOWN, Ohio - Like many homeowners across the country, Tom Hammond wanted to brighten his neighborhood with a dazzling outdoor Christmas light display.
But Hammond, a computer technician at the University of Akron Wayne College, set out to do something completely different.
"Basically, these are what you see in the neighborhood, same kind of lights. But they are lights you can control from your computer or from your smart phone anywhere in the world," said Hammond.
With the help of a friend from Australia, Hammond has worked out a way to literally turn control of his light display over to complete strangers from all over the world.
Through his website iTwinkle.org, anyone from around the globe can click on a bar that allows them to choose between a limitless combination of colors and designs that they can display on his house and watch from a live feed on their own computer.
Hammond started the project last year, attracting thousands of interactive participants from as far away as Chile, Belgium, and beyond.
The display is growing to include new lights and displays, all of which he has created himself with the help of a global community of enthusiasts and creators that share ideas and designs.
This year the online experience has been improved so that everyone who logs in is able to view the live picture, something that was not possible last year.
"It's spreading a little bit of joy to the world quite literally and it's fun to see, you know, cars passing by. I live in a rural community and not a whole lot of people see it and I just thought it brings a lot of happiness to people from around the world," said Hammond.
The display includes more than 3,000 lights. Hammond is already planning to add a feature next year that will allow people to choreograph their own displays on his house to music that they select then listen to it on a radio as they drive past his home or as they watch.
"One lady wrote that her mother couldn't decorate her house so she actually got to watch, decorate my house from her computer, and it meant a lot to her," said Hammond.