How This Father-And-Son Team Invented St. Louis’ Latest Smart Technology – St. Louis Public Radio

Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:16 am

The streets of downtown St. Louis are looking brighter and more energy efficient thanks to technology developed by Hazelwood-based Labyrinth Technologies. The local company developed a custom lighting solution as part of a$4 million Downtown STL Inc. projectto brand downtown and improve public safety.

On Fridays St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske learned more about Downtown STLs process of upgrading the streetlights throughout 360 square blocks. Once completed, the project will have made St. Louis one of the largest smart cities in the U.S., second only to San Diego, according to Downtown STL.

Joining the discussion were Downtown STL CEO Missy Kelley and the father-and-son team that helped develop the smart technology: Ted Stegeman, CEO of Labyrinth Technologies, and his 23-year-old son, John, the companys chief technology officer.

The initiative includes the installation of more than 2,300 curved, colorful light strips with "smart technology. The system of different sensors that collect data is referred to as the Internet of Things and can be programmed to look like a rainbow, a waterfall, a lava flow, an American flag, or blue and gold for the Blues hockey team.

The light strips are more energy efficient compared to the current sodium-halogen lights and will eventually be capable of added features such as cameras, gunshot detectors, weather sensors and pedestrian counters. And, if a bulb goes out, the city will instantly know via its mesh network grid.

A robotics team initially influenced the infrastructure for the invention of the light strips. John Stegeman started a FIRST (for inspiration and recognition of science and technology) tech challenge team during his time at John Burroughs School. He honed his technology skills and eventually worked on a project at the St. Louis Science Center. There, he worked on a NASA exhibit, building and designing Mars rovers all before the age of 18.

That built a lot of the core technology and background more than anything for how [the smart city lights] would work, because that particular exhibit involves wireless communication, long-distance data stuff and communicating between computers, he said.

So when I was asked by my dad [how to make the lights work], because he needed someone to help figure out this project, [I used] some of the information from there to help build this technology.

Ted Stegeman added: We're sort of a techie family. So we grew up building things and doing those kind of experiences, and the kids just sort of followed right along with them."

Listen to the full conversation to learn more about what the smart lights are capable of, how they aim to improve public safety in the city and plans for spreading this technology elsewhere:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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