Dimensional Innovations (DI) was asked to create something incredible for Boulevardia, a two-day festival in Kansas City that’s all about music, food and beer. The goal was to create something big, iconic and interactive for the more than 40,000 people entering the welcome center and to have it completed in a short, four-week timeline. So, what better than a 12-foot-high, 500-pound electric guitar that visitors can actually play?
Nominating Company: Dimensional Innovations, Overland Park, Kansas
Venue: Boulevardia, Kansas City, Missouri
Project: Boulevardia/12-foot-tall playable electric guitar
Category: Entertainment & Recreation
DI was asked to create something iconic, engaging and interactive for Boulevardia, a two-day festival of music, food and beer. We set out to create something that wasn’t only a great photo op, but a surprising and fun interactive experience. We created a larger-than-life guitar that was actually playable via custom electronics and software. The body of the guitar was adorned with DI-designed stickers for the bands and breweries at the festival.
Inside, a Bare Conductive touch board was used to make the 16-gauge galvanized wire, stretched from the head to the bridge, conductive. Raspberry Pi was also used for the interface and sound generation. A total of 16 buttons allow the player to pick a chord and switch from ‘clean’ to ‘dirty’ mode.
The guitar itself was more than 500 pounds and 12 feet tall. The most daunting challenge was creating the guitar in such a way that it would appear to be free-standing with no external supports or framework. And since this was a temporary installation, the guitar had to be easy to install and de-install. With an impressive team of developers, engineers and fabricators, DI solved the tricky challenge of making the guitar completely freestanding with no visible supports. The guitar was made from MDF and steel.
DI’s engineering and fabrication team considered weight distribution, materials and internal structure to create a huge guitar that was easy to install and was remarkably stable. Fun fact: It even turned out to be essentially weather-proof as it endured a powerful, overnight storm!
Located immediately behind the festival’s front gate, all 40,000 festival-goers got a chance to play or snap a photo with the guitar. The installation earned more than 250,000 social media impressions and was a regular feature in social content generated at the festival. The guitar was not only an awesome photo and video opportunity for visitors, but it also shows that an interactive project doesn’t necessarily need to include a touchscreen or a projector. Some of the best interactive installations are the ones that don’t look like interactive installations.
Since the guitar’s debut, it has been picked up and shared by several high-profile tech magazines, including Raspberry Pi, News Atlas, Hackaday, Microchip Makes, and Bare Conductive.
For a relatively low price, the Boulevardia guitar made a large impact on the overall experience that extended well beyond the event through social media.