From bringing the Wu-Tang style to interactive hardware to designing printed circuit boards in Uganda, Andrew Maxwell-Parish’s explorations into open-space technology have taken him to interesting places – both conceptual and geographical. Earlier this month, Andrew talked about his five-month artist residency at Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San Francisco, and we were there to hear all about it.

In the video featured above, which we’ve posted on our YouTube channel, Andrew walks us through his journey from rural Minnesotan self-reliance to his experiments in mechanical engineering and managing the Hybrid Labs at California College of the Arts. Along the way, he talks about making high-tech tools accessible to students with playful projects that inspire the eight-year-old in all of us. These include:

  • The Booty Box, a device that automatically plays music when you start moving and pauses when you stop moving, built with a 3D-printed case, Wave Shield, and Arduino Uno.
  • A Kinect project that plays Ace of Base and triggers a fan when you raise your arms.
  • An automated jump shot camera that takes perfect jump shots with Processing, OpenCV, and a high-quality webcam.
  • The Wu-Tang Can, an interactive tip jar built with an Arduino, Audio Shield, 3D printer, laser cutter, and a can of beans.
  • Controlling a 3D printer with Leap Motion technology (which we’ve reposted here on Developer Labs)

Recently, Andrew travelled to Uganda to work with Village Energy, which brings micro-home solar systems for off-grid communities in the country. Over the course of three weeks, he tweaked circuit boards and helped bring 3D printing to local small-scale manufacturing. By democratizing high-tech tools and making them accessible worldwide, Andrew believes that people from all backgrounds can use their own experiences to solve global problems.

After the presentation, our roving community manager Zachary caught up with Andrew to interview him about the Wu Tang can, building communities in the hardware space, his trip to Uganda, and why turning super-accurate, specialized 3D printing technology into a gesture-controlled device makes a strange sort of sense.

I had the 3D printer right there, so I’m working in an XYZ place, that’s an XYZ machine, so put the two together and see what happens… It’s an interesting concept to create something without any physical interaction with the material or the tool…. It’s the physical manifestation of something I’ve waved out of the air.


The wildest idea (I’ve heard for using this technology) was using it for research for primates. If we can create a system of rewards using a system like this – maybe to bring a banana – all they have to do is figure out what this interface is. This interface with no touching, but if we can make it intuitive enough that a primate can learn it, we’ve given primates the ability to control a computer.

Check out the full interview below:

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