A Celebration Of Black Folks Who Make Things
Star Simpson is a special Maker. She’s part artist, part engineer, part adventurer, part instigator, and wholly genius, creative, wonderful, and inspiring. She’s a hacker’s hacker. I am really impressed by her great collection of projects, ranging from the whimsical PlushCuffs for sleeping comfort in odd places, to the indescribable BabyBike two-wheel rig that earned Star the respect of the secretive Boston bicycle collective known only as SCUL, to the socially conscious Echolocation Training Goggles that are geared at helping blind people see like bats see, to the WOW!! 40KW argon laser-powered hot tub. If those projects aren’t enough, Star is involved with a very clandestine company called Integrated Plasmonics. With a name like that, they must be doing something interesting. The most I can glean from this BusinessWeek article is I-P is making a Star Trek TriCorder device:
Integrated Plasmonics, founded early last year by three scientists in their mid-30s to make an ultracheap, all-purpose medical diagnostic device. “The idea would be: You have this little strip, you could lick it, you could pee on it, or you could put a microdrop of blood on it, stick it into this little machine, and it’ll do a full characterization,” Palihapitiya explained. The chip would measure cholesterol levels, glucose levels, blood counts, kidney function, and the like. “You can basically know every day, every week, every month, everything that’s happening in your body.” (Business Week)
I’m sure Star gets to do incredibly cool work that boarders on cutting-edge science fiction with this company. Actually, I think Star does really cool work anywhere she is working. The photo I took of Star was from one of the first times I met her. She was working near the Shipyard, an artists’ collective in Oakland, CA. Star was helping a former classmate of and good friend of mine, Dan Goldwater, who runs Monkeylectric, design and build bicycle wheels that turn into a video display screen using persistence of vision (POV) and a lot of RGB LEDs. The results are strikingly beautiful. The bicycle wheels are a great example of Star’s skills. She is very modest when it comes to describing herself:
I’m an electrical engineer and programmer, and studied both at MIT. Cofounder ofCanidu with Hendrick Lee and Jason Li. I like engineering, tinkering/hacking, invention and creativity, and issues related to women in technology. I am Jamaican and German and I grew up in Hawaii. Today I tend to orbit SF, Shenzhen, Seattle, and Boston.
I have often spent my time building electronics, robots, welders, and writing code.I sail, climb, cycle, mountain bike, or soar, whenever I can.
I would also add innovator, inventor, designer, thinker… Star is quite the renaissance woman. Wired Magazine’s Editor Chris Anderson said Star Simpson is
“a world-class geek and otherwise cool person”
I totally agree!