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Meet Seemore: Maker Faire's Mesmerizing 256-Node Computer Cluster

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SeeMore, a parallel computer that is also an animatronic sculpture.

A centerpiece of the recent World Maker Faire was SeeMore, a giant animatronic sculpture equipped with 256 Raspberry Pi microcontrollers.

One of the centerpieces of the recent World Maker Faire in New York City was a giant cylindrical object studded with hundreds of translucent green electronic panels that waved around like leaves in the wind. The object was SeeMore, an animatronic sculpture designed by sculptor Sam Blanchard and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University computer scientist Kirk Cameron to illustrate the concept of parallel computing.

Blanchard calls the project a "physical data visualization that demonstrates the changes occurring." The name is a reference to supercomputing pioneer Seymour Cray.

SeeMore is itself a parallel computer: each of SeeMore's 256 translucent green "leaves" is a Raspberry Pi microcontroller attached to the main structure with a 90-degree reticulating motor. The Raspberry Pis are all networked together to parse up and down a database of New York City public records. When an individual Raspberry Pi was idle, its "leaf" would be held stationary against the main structure, and it would extend away when it was carrying out computations. In this way, SeeMore embodied the process of parallel computing.

Blanchard says the goal of the installation was to "get us to stop thinking of computers in a black box."

From Inverse
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