Maker Faire 2009 Submitted Application

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Christie submitted the application on 4-21-09

Well, the application is in. I used one of Marc's video from Maker's Faire last year at, (I am reluctant to use a video promoting someone else for this) and his photo at Since this is an image potentially to be posted to the Maker's Faire website, it does not fall within the existing agreement with the artist for the photo people liked that allows us to use it on our site and for non-commercial purposes, as the Maker's Faire is, in fact, a commercial venture.

(As an aside on the app, I had a TINY blank to describe the space we need.)

Information on the app:

SWARM is a kinetic art work of semi-autonomous spherical robots ("Orbs"). Each robot has a shell 30 inches in diameter, with batteries, motors, audio system and color LED illumination inside. The SWARM is under the command of an on-board computer with wireless connectivity to other orbs and a central computer.

SWARM is built to explore the aesthetic possibilities in the emergent behavior of artificial systems. As a first step, Orbs are remote-controlled by human operators, but each Orb's sounds and color illumination is algorithmically generated in response to location and motion. Each Orb has sophisticated navigational sensors including GPS, accelerometers, and rate gyros. We are progressing towards sophisticated navigational algorithms, much like those used in spacecraft, that allow each orb to determine its location with high accuracy. From this, we can explore emergent and cooperative behavior like flocking as well as new possibilities in machine choreography. SWARM is not a simulation. SWARM is a platform for art of the 21st century.

Web site:

Project Photo:

Project video:

Tags: robotics "kinetic art" sound light music color

Category: Arts

SWARM was designed and created by a loose-knit group of artists and engineers in San Francisco, California. Our group does not have a formal name. Many of us have been involved with the Flaming Lotus Girls and other Bay Area arts organizations. We work primarily out of the BoxShop artist space in the Hunter's Point area of San Francisco. We started designing SWARM in late 2006, demonstrated our first rolling prototype at the 2007 Makers Faire, and deployed the full fleet of six rolling Orbs at Burning Man in 2007. Since then we have deployed the Orbs at numerous art events and gatherings. We wish to acknowledge the Burning Man Organization for the initial funding that helped turn SWARM into a reality.

Commercial Maker? no

Indoor/Outdoor: Either

Space: Non-standard set-up [Min.: 40ft x 40ft., optimal: 60ft x 60ft. level performance space +table + 10x10 charging station]

Noise Level: Normal - does not interfere with normal conversation

Electrical: Must have, with special requirements (please describe) [Need power at charging station, but not at performance space]

Internet Access: Don't need

Safety Needs: The SWARM orbs are currently operated by remote controls. Each orb operator is experienced with orb control and can maneuver an orb to avoid collisions with other orbs, people, and infrastructure. Orb operators can adapt to any situation to maximize the safety of participants while maintaining the interactive nature of the project.

Special Request: Charging station, referenced above needs to be secure for unattended charging, preferably overnight. We also need passes for 16 people to accomodate 2 shifts per day of 4 people each.


We will know definitively by May 11 whether or not we're in.