Demolition Superpowers

  • Year: 2014
  • Category: TV / Installation / Robots

How could technology grant you super powers? We were asked by The Gadget Show team to explore how we could give someone super strength through technology. Could a swipe of a hand knock down a building? From that little notion we arrived at the concept of controlling wrecking balls and demolition equipment, could we control a full sized excavation machine with discreet gestural control?

There were a lot of restrictions on what we could and couldn’t do, not just for safety’s sake but for the large part it had to do with the types of technology which the Gadget Show were interested in showcasing. Every interface device presented it’s own challenges and possibilities. We found a wearable ring sized gestural input device called the NOD Ring which was still in the prototype phase and we got in touch with the creators in California to see if they could ship a few units out to us. We also partnered with one of our friends to see how designs for a robotic arm could potentially be used to control a joystick on an excavator.


A lot of the time especially on shorter crunchier challenges, our work involves gluing together and recombining technologies and this project was no exception. We had to iterate fast and be open to making quick changes.


Safety wins

In the end our weable ring controlled a robotic arm which in turn controlled the 40-tonne excavator. We went through many robotic arms and settled on making our own very low-tech but strong Meccano Arm.

Everyone worked round the clock to get this one working and although in our initial tests everything worked to plan and our demo did the job, in reality we found that the NOD ring lost its charge and our backup wireless keyboard couldn’t be used for the sake of editorial factualness which the Gadget Show are very committed to. So our silent operator gave it a little nudge.

So, if you want to control a robot arm by waving your arms about…we’re just the team for the job!