It only took Mike Kane, a self-taught programmer from the Philly suburbs, three weekends to design his ChristmasPrism app. Late on Friday nights and early on Saturday mornings, before breakfast.
The app allows homeowners with Christmas light displays to upload a photo of their home to the ChristmasPrism app. People out hunting for cool Christmas light displays could then pull up the app and map them out. The app was originally just to showcase Delaware County which borders Philadelphia, and he expected about 50 users by Christmas. The user count just a little more than two weeks later: 55,000.
There are users in 40 states, including Alaska, There are even users in Puerto Rico.
The ChristmasPrism app is still only available in the Apple Store. But Kane was able to put together a website in all his spare time that allows Android users to map out Christmas lights in their browsers. You just can’t add houses on the website interface.
Kane also insists on approving all the images uploaded to ChristmasPrism, as a form of quality control and keeping the site clean. “So it’s been me and my wife late into the night with a bottle of wine doing all the approving,” he explains.
We used the app for the first time and loved it. I was not quite sure what all the different icons meant, but it seems that based on the number of likes a house gets, the icons change.
An elk means you have just a few likes. A snowman means you’re getting better. And it goes on from there up to a giant snow globe, which indicates you have more than 25 likes.
Here’s a house that has a giant inflatable Grinch (30 feet tall by one estimate).
I don’t know if driving around looking at Christmas lights is just a Philly thing, but it doesn’t sound like it. And if you like doing so, I can highly recommend this app. #DelcoStrong
*the picture up top is from a house that must have had a few hundred inflatables in their yard.