Community Profile: Matt Reed

This column is from The MagPi issue 51. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Matt Reed‘s background is in web design/development, extending to graphic design in which he acquired his BFA at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his youth, his passion focused on car stereo systems, designing elaborate builds that his wallet couldn’t afford. However, this enriched his maker skill set by introducing woodwork, electronics, and fabrication exploration into his creations.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Matt hosts the redpepper ‘Touch of Tech’ online series, highlighting the latest in interesting and unusual tech releases

Having joined the integrated marketing agency redpepper eight years ago, Matt originally worked in the design and production of microsites. However, as his interests continued to grow, demand began to evolve, and products such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi came into the mix. Matt soon found himself moving away from the screen toward physical builds.

“I’m interested in anything that uses tech in a clever way, whether it be AR, VR, front-end, back-end, app dev, servers, hardware, UI, UX, motion graphics, art, science, or human behaviour. I really enjoy coming up with ideas people can relate to.”

Matt’s passion is to make tech seem cool, creative, empowering, and approachable, and his projects reflect this. Away from the Raspberry Pi, Matt has built some amazing creations such as the Home Alone Holidaython, an app that lets you recreate the famous curtain shadow party in Kevin McCallister’s living room. Pick the shadow you want to appear, and projectors illuminate the design against a sheet across the redpepper office window. Christmas on Tweet Street LIVE! captures hilariously negative Christmas-themed tweets from Twitter, displaying them across a traditional festive painting, while DOOR8ELL allows office visitors the opportunity to Slack-message their required staff member via an arcade interface, complete with 8-bit graphics. There’s also been a capacitive piano built with jelly keys, a phone app to simulate the destruction of cars as you sit in traffic, and a working QR code made entirely from Oreos.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

The BoomIlluminator, an interactive art installation for the Red Bull Creation Qualifier, used LEDs within empty Red Bull cans that reacted to the bass of any music played. A light show across the cans was then relayed to peoples’ phones, extending the experience.

Playing the ‘technology advocate’ role at redpepper, Matt continues to bridge the gap between the company’s day-to-day business and the fun, intuitive uses of tech. Not only do they offer technological marketing solutions via their rpLab, they have continued to grow, incorporating Google’s Sprint methodology into idea-building and brainstorming within days of receiving a request, “so having tools that are powerful, flexible, and cost-effective like the Pi is invaluable.”

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Walk into a room with Doorjam enabled, and suddenly your favourite tune is playing via boombox speakers. Simply select your favourite song from Spotify, walk within range of a Bluetooth iBeacon, and you’re ready to make your entrance in style.

“I just love the intersection of art and science,” Matt explains when discussing his passion for tech. “Having worked with Linux servers for most of my career, the Pi was the natural extension for my interest in hardware. Running Node.js on the Pi has become my go-to toolset.”

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Slackbot Bot: Users of the multi-channel messenger service Slack will appreciate this one. Beacons throughout the office allow users to locate Slackbot Bot, which features a tornado siren mounted on a Roomba, and send it to predetermined locations to deliver messages. “It was absolutely hilarious to test in the office.”

We’ve seen Matt’s Raspberry Pi-based portfolio grow over the last couple of years. A few of his builds have been featured in The MagPi, and his Raspberry Preserve was placed 13th in the Top 50 Raspberry Pi Builds in issue 50.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Matt Reed’s ‘Raspberry Preserve’ build allows uses to store their precious photos in a unique memory jar

There’s no denying that Matt will continue to be ‘one to watch’ in the world of quirky, original tech builds. You can follow his work at his website or via his Twitter account.