Introduction: Family Activity Portraits

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
These four picture frames are much more than places to hold an image. Each one of these has a light behind it to light it up. In addition, that light is controlled by a motion detector that's not attached to the light. In fact, the motion detector can be anywhere there's power and a wi-fi hotspot to connect to.

So these pictures all together are really an activity map. Here, I'm using these pictures to show activity in different rooms of the house. If there's motion in a room, the corresponding frame lights up. No more motion, the frame turns off.

It all sounds a little Big Brother, but as a father of a couple of really young kids it's helpful to know just which room a kid ran off to. I don't  live in a big house either. Those little guys are fast!

Step 1: Materials and Supplies

The first step is to decide how many frames you want. The cost for each is roughly $100. Here's what you need for each:
  1. 9"x9" IKEA Ribba frame
  2. LED string
  3. Drill w 5/32" bit (I'm using this)
  4. Belkin WeMo Home Automation Switch and Motion Sensor

Step 2: Make the Lit Frames

Each of the frames is lit with a string of LEDs. Both the frame and the LEDs are available from IKEA. Installing the LEDs is very easy with a drill. The photos here capture the process:
  1. Tape template to back of frame
  2. Drill holes with 5/32" bit in all of the circles
  3. Insert LEDs
  4. Put back back onto frame
The whole process is expanded a little bit in my Evenly backlit IKEA frame with LEDs Instructable. It only takes about 5-10 minutes for each frame.

Step 3: Plug Frames Into the Internet

The plugs for the frames are plugged into the WeMo switch. This switch receives a signal via wi-fi that tells it when to turn the power on and off. This can be open to hundreds of different causes, but we're sticking with the stock purpose of pairing each switch with a motion detector.

The motion detector is the other half of the WeMo combo and this motion detector can be placed anywhere there is a wi-fi connection as well. Here, this is being used within the same house, but it can be put anywhere else in the world. Want to know when your business partner has arrived at his office across the country? This can do that.

One switch can easily be plugged into a wall outlet, but it eats up space on a wall outlet or even a power strip. So I used a flexible Powersquid unit.

Step 4: Print Out Pictures and Setup WeMo

Now for the tricky part, what picture to use?

I could've used pictures of my own family, but thought it would be more fun to use favorite animals to represent different people. So each animal here is for a member of the family. The coffee cup is for the kitchen.

These pictures were all found on flickr. These all had a Creative Commons license and were available for commercial use. Here are the links:

As for setting up the links for the switches and motion detectors you just use the iOS app for it to get it going. It only takes a couple minutes of following the steps it shows you.

So that's it. You now have an internet-activated light in your house. Mine is tracking household movement, but it's so so easy to change it up to many other uses.