Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Interactive Musical Tire Swing

logo courtesy of Maker Startup Weekeend
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in MAKER Startup Weekend sponsored by Techshop and Autodesk.  In the midst of social & mobile startups, this was the first Startup Weekend event geared specifically towards the "Maker" community.  I was part of the team along with Christina Chu, Bill Thomasmeyer, and Ace Shelander, who designed, fabricated, built, programmed and integrated, the Interactive Musical Tire Swing all in 1 weekend! 
Photo courtesy of Techshop
While it was largely an experiment for the Startup Weekend folks, who mainly focus on startups in the social & mobile space, it was a success from a teaming, mentoring and leveraging the tools and facilities at Techshop perspective. It was refreshing for me to get out of the office my regular day job and truly make something on a grand scale.  Props to my teammates who combined engineering, electronics, project management, fabrication, and business skills to get the job done! 
Photo courtesy of Techshop
The Interactive Musical Tire Swing is an 
 interactive, Arduino-powered invention that can be placed in child friendly areas, backyards, museums, and other public places.  The way it works is, the "brains", or Arduino microprocessor board selects various mp3 musical tracks and/or beats and flashing LED lights based on the position of an accelerometer mounted inside the tire, thus interacting with the user.  The Arduino programming and electronics design were done by Christina Chu with a detailed write-up of the business end of the Interactive Musical Tire Swing on her blog, ThinkLoveCreate.  I loved wearing many hats on this project, working with Ace on the fabrication and build, sourcing many of the mechanical parts including the perfect tire and helping Bill with the presentation.  There is a pretty nice writeup describing all of the projects and the overall weekend on the Make Magazine Blog.
Photo courtesy of Techshop
The entire weekend was an amazing experience culminating in presentations to an audience of makers, geeks, VCs, VIPs, and the generally curious.  By the end of the weekend there were 8 teams left pitching the potential business value of their respective projects/products.  Our idea was to transform the way way people relax and play using a simple tire swing by making it interactive.  Our commitment was to get as much feedback by having people use it.  A couple of weeks ago Christina submitted an application to the the Bay Area Maker Faire; lets see what happens.
Photo courtesy of @andybot

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