Kelly Culnan | 05.26.17 | Culture

Moogfest VIP Power Hour: A Smashing Labs Showcase

  • IoT
  • labs

Moogfest – the synthesis of art, music, and technology

In 2016, Moogfest came to the vibrant city of Durham, where Smashing Boxes had the opportunity to be a proud sponsor and partner. We wanted to continue that relationship, so Smashing Boxes hosted VIP Power Hour with Moogfest on Saturday, May 20th, 2017. The purpose of the event was to highlight the work that came from Smashing Labs. Here at SB, we believe that ample time for innovation is vital to continually pushing our limits and implementing what we are learning in a meaningful way.

The hour kicked off at 1pm, and guests poured into our office with their VIP Moogfest wristbands. These guests were VIP engineers who had access to all sorts of workshops and events throughout the weekend of Moogfest. All of the projects were on display; our office had never looked cooler. Guests received gift bags that contained some SB swag as well as the parts to build their own programmable synth. Detailed instructions for that can be found on our blog post by our Director of Technology, Brian Carrigan. He also lists the name and price of each part, so anyone can purchase their own and follow along!

After some words from our CEO, Nick Jordan, we heard from Forever Labs about the future of longevity and stem cell storage. The goal of Forever Labs is to help people live longer, healthier lives. CEO, Steven Clausnitzer, presented a video that explored the potential benefits of saving your bone marrow stem cells to help treat age-related diseases later in life. This type of innovation is especially fascinating to us because of our focus on work in healthcare.

After the presentation, guests were invited to stroll around the office and check out the Smashing Labs projects:

3D Printing Station

Rob Andrews, a developer here at SB, had two 3D printers set up in our conference room. One was a commercial machine, the other was built by Rob himself. He was eager to tell people about his experience building 3D printers, something he is very passionate about. His product of choice for the afternoon was the current fad, fidget spinners. He was printing them on both machines continuously throughout the event, and it only took about 30 minutes to print one spinner per printer.


Over at the bar was another creation that we love to brag about, the beer tap sensor known as Tapp. This was put together by one of our developers, Jon Latane, and Director of Tech, Brandon Mathis. A tablet rests between each beer tap and acts as a keg status monitor. As you pour beer, the status of the keg displayed on the screen decreases. It was developed using Arduino. During our Moogfest Power Hour, guests could choose from two beers to pour and check out how the sensor works.


Fraqture is an experimental platform that combines art with technology (perfect for Moogfest!). It explores the commonalities among glitch art and graffiti, two forms of art which are similar in nature but seen in different places. Fraqture uses algorithms to turn a variety of images into glitch art. Pixels within images are twisted and rearranged to create something completely unique. There aren’t enough photos in the world to display the variety of art that Fraqture can create, but check out just three that were captured from Moogfest Power Hour.


Substrate, a creation put together by developers Mike Weslander and David Sweetman, was an immediate attention grabber at the front of our office. It is a responsive, interactive application that allows users to control audio tracks using either arrow keys on a computer or by placing their hands on the metal sheets displayed. Substrate was originally a design for the Moogfest 2016 website, but was expanded into a project that can be interacted with not just virtually, but physically. The graphics are projected onto the wall and the metal sheets were made so you can touch them to create the same effect as using arrows keys on the computer. The most exciting part about Substrate is that it generates a completely unique audio and 3D visual experience for every user.


[Dot]people was created by some of our New Orleans staff, developer Keegan Brown and Director of Design, John Pucci. This project is an interactive experiment that has allowed SB to better study hardware integration, experiential design and data visualization. It is essentially a public facing visual experiment in marketing. [Dot]people was up on display on a monitor near the front of the office, in front of which sat a Kinect camera. Guest could walk up to it and see their movements mimicked on the screen like in the photo below.


Topologica, an application developed by Jon Latane, turns your smartphone into a musical instrument. Users navigate through chord progressions using the touch screen, and physically moving the phone in their hand to change the pitch and length of the notes. Up to three instruments can be played at once (out of 128 to choose from) and it’s even possible to connect multiple devices and have one act as a conductor. Guests had the ability to produce their own chord progressions and see just how powerful this application is.


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