portfolio of work
selected works from 2005-2010
LED VU Meter (2005)
Made from discarded LED Display matrices found lying on a scrap heap, the panels were re-wired and connected to a PC to transform them
into a VU meter. The re-wired panels were then cast in amber resin to create a diffuser for the narrow beam LEDs.
The control interface formed part of my early exploration into computer control using a cheap printer port interface. The goal was to create a
modular IO system, providing power and IO via an easily obtainable three wire stereo mini jack.
LED Candle (2005)
A simple LED candle made by casting wax around a LED cluster. Three were made, one yellow and two red.
The candles formed part of my early attempts at a standardized computer IO system, where the candles could be used as indicators for digital
events, like receipt of an email, or an upcoming appointment.
3D Renderings (2005)
Renderings of a 3D model made to look like a still under construction balsawood model.
Riverside water research center (2005)
Riverside water research center was a design project around the sustainable use of water. The project created a space where people could
participate in open research and learn hands on about how water is both polluted and cleansed.
The initial concept behind Meye was a simple navigation interface for passing location data to the user in an unobtrusive manner. Once the
concept began to solidify however, the true potential of a simple machine interface became apparent, and the device morphed from personal
geo-location tool, to a collaborative tool for changing the way we experience our environment.
Augmented reality is nothing new, but the mental image it conjures up is normally of someone wearing a bulky system of computers, cameras
and heads up displays. Not something that the average person would strap on before heading out to work. A hat on the other hand, is easy
to put on before you leave the house and doesn’t draw any stares on the street.
Meye takes the form of a hatband, easily imbedded in your favorite headwear. Around the band is an array of vibrating motors. The motors can
be controlled individually, passing a silent, unobtrusive stimulus to the wearer. Coupled with a GPS, compass, gyroscope and accelerometer,
the band can pull many forms of information from its surroundings, and receive input from the user.
The band alerts the wearer when they are near a location of possible interest. The user decided to investigate the location, and nods their
head to accept the suggestion. The band then begins guiding the user to the location, “pointing” in the direction they need to travel by
activating the relevant motor.
A Space for Malleable Thoughts (2007)
A space for malleable thoughts was a collaboration with two other designers to explore the way modern modes of communication shift ones
perceptions around the solidity of an idea. How once an object is real, we think it is no longer modifiable, no longer made up of smaller
interchangeable parts, infinitely tweakable from iteration to iteration. The problem comes from where we perceive that reality, is it in the mind,
on paper, on the screen, once it is on the shelf of the supermarket, or never?
a device for people helps you regain the perception that everything in your environment is infinitely tweakable by providing an interface to
modify your actual environment in a virtual manner. Anything viewed through the device is malleable; hold the device in front of your phone
and stretch the screen, hold the device in front of your in front of a microwave and re-arrange the buttons. Re-create the world to your liking,
then let other people experience your modifications.
A Space for Malleable Thoughts (2007)
A device for people took the form of a window, a device to see through into a malleable virtual world where everything can be tweaked and
adjusted. This took the shape of a small handheld go-everywhere device made up of an expandable body covered with a flexible skin. A
camera on the back of the device coupled with a pico-projector inside the device, aimed at the flexible front skin, turns the device into a push
pull capable window through which the virtual world, and its infinite modifications, are seen.
Since the user is always looking “through”, and as such, at the device, a small second camera on the front of the device captures the users
face as a video stream, overlaying that feed on a virtual avatar, renderable by other viewers in the collaborative space.
Acti is a location specific project that attempted to grow peoples’ awareness of the activities that took place in a space at times that they would
normally experience it. My goal was to create an easy to use social network with an almost zero effort buy-in.
This network took the form of a bracelet that reflected the amount of people using each venue along a popular road. Each venue used a
small footfall sensor at the door and relayed the number of people in the venue to a central server. The server then disseminated that stream
of information in an open form via a medium range FM radio transmitter. The bracelets then picked up that simple FM transmission and
rendered the occupancy data as the brightness of the associated LED. This allowed people to see at a glance what was happening along the
street even outside of their normal visiting hours, creating new connections outside of their comfort zones.
Simple City Greenery (2007)
Cities are harsh places built from hard, unforgiving concrete. Nothing is permeable; noise reverberates almost infinitely, light and heat bounce
around creeping everywhere you don’t want it and nowhere you do. When it rains there is nothing to absorb the moisture and it’s quickly
piped out of the city to be dealt with somewhere else. When the rain is gone the concrete is just as dry as before, just as hot and just as noisy.
The modular pavement tile planter looked for a solution by making space for greenery by trapping some of that lost rainwater in a system of
interlocking reservoirs below the pavement. Once there the water is absorbed by planting in the lid of the reservoir, re-radiating that water
into the city’s air slowly, the evaporation cooling the city, the grass absorbing some of the sound, some of the light, making the city a more
pleasant space to live in.
Energy footprint (2007)
Energy footprint was an project to calculate the energy usage of your own household and demonstrate how you could optimize your home
enviroment to minimize consumption.
Flinch was an entry for a Small office / Home Office workstation design competition, where it won 2nd place.
Music Selector (2008)
The Music Selector came from playing around with a newly arrived RFID reader. Initially the goal was to make a device that connected with
Skype, where a non computer-literate person could place a physical photograph onto a pad and Skype would bring up a video chat with that
person. The project was however co-opted as a presentation for children and needed more “instant gratification” and morphed into a device
for selecting music. Each object; be it a CD, vinyl record, piece of memorabilia etc, has a tiny RFID tag glued to it. When the user places the
object on the device, the RFID reader grabs the code from the tag and passes it to the computer via an Arduino. The computer then plays
the media item associated with the code, and as such, the object.
Arduino Accelerometer (2008)
The Arduino Accelerometer is a platform to experiment with accelerometer control. After adding a Bluetooth serial dongle the device wirelessly
controlled a tracked robot. Tilt the control forwards and the robot drives forwards, tilt it to the left and it turns left. Its intuitiveness was apparent
when our (Rossum Robotics Academy) students, aged 8-14 were experimenting with the interface without any prior instruction. In under
minute, they could drive the robot around without any problems.
Slouch Detector (2009)
A simple little device worn like a back-to-front necklace, the slouch detector measures the angle of the wearers’ back. If the angle is
outside of an allowable threshold the device gives off a silent reminder by pulsing a small pager motor.
Often, the first time someone wears the device, they realize just how bad their normal seated posture is when after only a few
minutes they have cramps from keeping an upright back. The muscles are simple unfit, and after a few days of use, they are able
to maintain a correct posture.
Slouch Detector (2009)
The device is made up a of small Arduino mini microcontroller, running a simple program that monitors the angle of a small I2C
The accelerometer lays flat on the users back allowing the microcontroller to measure the wearers’ slouch. If their slouch is outside an
adjustable threshold, the controller activates a small vibrating pager motor, alerting the user that they need to straighten up. The possibility
of connecting the device to the computer opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities like more persuasive alerts, logging, social statistics, etc.
Beat Machine (2009)
The Beat Machine started life as a platform for experimenting with multi-touch interfaces while doing research for Rossum Robotics and
quickly morphed into an interactive display for children at a popular science centre in Cape Town.
The player arranges small black chips in a grid on the Perspex surface of the display, where row selects the sound and column selects the
time. A web camera bellow then picks the chips up and allows software to calculate their position on the grid, and as such what sound (row)
to play when (column).
Various Projects (2007 - 2009)
Various projects created while working with Rossum Robotics to get children interested in the world of programming, mechanic and electronics.
Left : A web-camera mounted on a quickly snapped together pan-tilt head allowed the laptop-based robot to be driven over the Internet.
Middle : A simple robot designed to map its environment. This iteration was testing a charging docking station during a science festival. The
robot needed to roam free, and as such needed batteries, but needed to run all day. The solution was to build simple cardboard and foil
charging stati n that the robot could find and use to charge autonomously when its power was low.
Right : A 3 axis robotic arm capable of receiving and executing a string of commands from a cell phone via SMS
THERON Africa 1984 BURGER
Born in Pretoria, South
Studied architecture at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, attaining his degree (B.AS) in 2005.
Worked for a year as an architect for one of the leading architects in the country, Don Albert (Sound Space Design) as part of the practical
work experience required on completion of the degree.
Applied for and gained exemption for the first two years, going directly into the final year of Three Dimensional Design (Industrial Design)
at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, completing in 2007.
From 2008 to March 2010, worked as an educator teaching robotics and developing displays to get young people in South Africa excited
about fields such as programming, electronics and mechanics.