algorithmic modeling for Rhino



Firefly offers a set of comprehensive software tools dedicated to bridging the gap between Grasshopper, (a free plug-in for Rhino) the Arduino microcontroller and other input/output devices. It allows near real-time data flow between the digital and physical worlds – enabling the possibility to explore virtual and physical prototypes with unprecedented fluidity.

Location: Cambridge, MA
Members: 431
Latest Activity: on Sunday

Firefly Experiments

As a generative modeling tool, Grasshopper offers a fluid visual interface for creating sophisticated parametric models, but by default, it lacks the ability to communicate with hardware devices such as programmable microcontrollers or haptic interfaces. Firefly fills this void. It is an extension to the Grasshopper’s parametric interface; combining a specialized set of components with a novel communication protocol (called the Firefly Firmata or Firmware) which together enable real-time communication between hardware devices and the parametric plug-in for Rhino.

Key Features

  • Read / Write to Arduino microcontrollers and other devices
  • Visualize Sensor Data within Firefly / Grasshopper
  • Control LEDS, Lights, Motors, Valves and more
  • Control Stepper Motors (for 3d Printers and end effectors) 
  • Stream Web Cams and connect with Mobile Devices (iOS + Android) using OSC and UDP
  • Connect to Internet Feeds and search XML Feeds 
  • Generate code to upload to an Arduino Board
  • Basic sound input and processing tools
  • Datalogging, counting and playback
  • Machine Vision toolkit including edge detection, color filtering, convolution filtering and much more
  • Kinect toolkit including skeleton tracking

A notable distinction for Firefly is that it is the first visual microcontroller programming environment designed specifically for a 3-D parametric CAD package (such as Rhino). This feature means that real-world data, acquired from various types of sensors or other input devices (video cameras, internet feeds, or mobile phone devices, etc.) can be used to explicitly define parametric relationships within a Grasshopper model. Firefly completes the communication feedback loop by allowing users the ability to send information from Grasshopper back to the microcontroller in order to incite specific actuations (ie. lights, motors, valves, etc). Ultimately, this workflow creates a new way to create interactive prototypes.

Discussion Forum

Temperature sensors DS18B20 one wire digital 1 Reply

Hello, anybody has tried to read this in using firefly?thank yougContinue

Started by Galo Moncayo-Asan. Last reply by Azadeh.Barimani on Saturday.

Gate Switch that streams Data depending on Boolean State 1 Reply

Hello Everyone,I have a question about Firefly. I installed it and made up a definition in Grasshopper and everything works fine there. But when I try to generate Code it says that one part of my Grasshopper file can't be translatet (in the picture…Continue

Started by Thomas Lechner. Last reply by Andy Payne Feb 25.

Firefly Now Available 5 Replies

It's been entirely too long since my last update, but I'm proud to announce that a new version of Firefly ( is now available!  There are a lot of new features and components with a few bug fixes as well.  If you want to jump straight in,…Continue

Tags:, Firefly

Started by Andy Payne. Last reply by Scott Penman Feb 7.

I want to know how to determine the value according to the music files mp3

It is a very useful plug;I want to know how to determine the value according to the music files mp3.I have known to base on real-time voice to input.Finally, I want to according to the size of the sound discretion determine 0-1。Thank you very…Continue

Started by 未知 Jan 25.


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Comment Wall


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Comment by Juan Sepulveda on Sunday

Hello everybody,

I share the video from the Adaptive Facade Workshop that European Facade Network organized in Lucerne in November 2014, all the students used Firefly for the mock-ups...

Comment by kwanphil cho on February 26, 2015 at 4:31pm

Thanks for quick reply. I am currently doing a research about generating sound from the movement of the people. I love your plugin and hopefully sound part can have more components soon. Will there be any other way to import sound file to grasshopper? such as CSV or any other format?

Comment by Andy Payne on February 25, 2015 at 4:55pm

Hi Kwanphil.  Unfortunately, at this moment it is not possible to load in an mp3 file directly.  You could play it over the speakers and use the other audio components to read in the microphone data... but reading in an mp3 file isn't currently supported.

Comment by kwanphil cho on February 25, 2015 at 12:58pm

Hi. thank you for letting me in the group. Just quick question. is there any way to bring mp3 file and play in firefly? I would like to extract data from specific mp3 file if it is possible. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance.

Comment by Justin Hare on January 14, 2015 at 7:41am

Andy, I was previously running Windows via Bootcamp and it worked fine. I had an issue after updating to Yosemite that lost the partition so I reinstalled everything and decided to go the Parallels route. Might not have been the best idea. 

Comment by Andy Payne on January 14, 2015 at 7:38am

Justin, was this working before on a different system configuration?

Comment by Justin Hare on January 14, 2015 at 7:26am

Help! Switched to using Parallels and now Kinect doesn't work. I know there is an issue with Kinect not properly connecting in other programs. I haven't had any luck finding a solution. Any suggestions?

Comment by awkweird on December 2, 2014 at 11:32pm

Thank you for advice Mr.Andy. I am almost finished my project, however I have another question that is eliminating my pc from the entire work. Which means uploading these grasshopper codes to Arduino. I have seen the CodeGene component but quite not sure whether Ardiuno itself could handle the computing process of Leap motion data. Should i use arduino with usb connection? or other device that would be connection between leapmotion and Arduino board?
Here is my multiple Servo motor connection video.

Comment by Andy Payne on November 12, 2014 at 5:56pm

Amartuvshin, please see this thread about controlling multiple servos

Comment by awkweird on November 12, 2014 at 9:16am

Thank you Mr.Andy. It really helps a lot!
I switched the cables, and now servo works fine. However still some problem with the LEDs. The reason is my resisters are not 220 in my opinion. I've checked resister calulator and i installed on my bread. 
I have one more question. what if i want to control more servo motors individually. Do i need more arduinos or some other device to connect with my arduino uno?
This picture is showing what I am testing right now.Thank you. Have a great day!


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