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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Vintage gadgets hacked with social media integration

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

Twitter typewriter.
(Credit: Matthew Eppler)

As part of its latest fashion campaign, Levi's has modified four vintage objects to automatically post updates to social networking sites.

Well, not Levi's itself. As part of its Station to Station travelling art installation, the denimwear company engaged creative agency AKQA and creative technologists Matthew Eppler and Mark Kleback to create the Makers Tools — four antique objects modified with modern technology. Yeah, it may be a marketing campaign, but it's a really danged cool one.

The four devices are a 1901 Underwood No. 5 typewriter that posts to Twitter; a 1953 Gibson E-125 guitar that posts to SoundCloud; a 1939 Graflex still camera that posts to Instagram; and a 1953 Bolex B8 video camera that also posts to Instagram.

SoundCloud Gibson.
(Credit: Matthew Eppler)

Eppler and Kleback used Raspberry Pi to power each device, with a Raspberry Pi camera module also used on the Graflex and the Bolex cameras. Wi-Fi antennas enabled the devices to connect to mobile hotspots for automatic uploading, and RFID bracelets and readers allowed the artists and musicians using the devices to log into their own social media accounts.

We particularly like the nixie tubes on the typewriter that count down the number of remaining characters in the Twitter post. The Bolex also has an LED display that counts down the 15 seconds allowed for an Instagram video.

Users interacting with the devices were shown a question from the Levi's Make Our Mark campaign on an OLED screen, which they were encouraged to answer.


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