Background

Waterloo Labs is named after Waterloo, TX, the original city name of Austin. Waterloo Labs was founded by four engineers at National Instruments with a lot of hardware, a little extra time, and a desire to engineer awesome. We want to create cowboy engineering projects and share them with the world. Our projects hack everyday technologies in new and interesting ways. We started with firework and sounds, but quickly moved on to firearms and video games, full-size automobiles and iPhones, and biomedical signals and NES. We would love to hear your ideas and incorporate them into our next project. Feel free to send us a tweet at @WaterlooLabs.​

The Founders
Waterloo Labs FAQ
We get asked these a lot...
  • About the Team
    • Is Waterloo Labs from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada?
      Nope, Waterloo Labs is named after the original name of Austin, TX . Many other landmarks, such as Waterloo Records , Waterloo Park , and the Waterloo Ice House, also call Austin home.
    • What kind of background does the Waterloo Labs team have.
      Waterloo Labs is mostly made of electrical and mechanical engineers, but we also work with artists, students, and tinkerers of all sorts.

      The founders
      Doug       ME   Georgia Tech
      Will         EE    Michigan
      Stephen  ME   Texas
      Hunter     ECE  Baylor

      The Interns
      Tim            ME        University of Rochester
      Peter          EE         Lehigh University
      Humphrey  MSEE   Columbia
      Dylan         EE        UTSA
       
    • Seriously though... what's the point?
      Waterloo Labs has never been too concerned with practicality. Our projects are about doing things that have never been done before by connecting everyday technologies in new and interesting ways. While almost every project we do could serve a useful purpose with minor modification, our goal is to make science, technology, engineering, and math fun for the whole Internet!
  • The Projects
    • In the Eye Mario project, why were you turning your head in the video?
      In this project, we could either keep our head still and move our eyes, or keep our eyes locked on the screen and turn our head. When you look left, your eye moves right relative to your head. All we had to do was reverse the look direction in software and we could change the mode. Turning the head left and right was easier and less disorienting than moving your eyes, but we found that jerking your neck up and down was less forgiving.
    • Are you planning on selling the setup from your video?
      Nope, we just make these things for fun. Generally speaking, we make them in a hurry so most of our systems are not super durable or practical. Our goal is to show what you can do by combining simple and common technologies in complex and interesting ways. We give away our source code and plans, so you can use it as a starting point and create something even cooler.
  • Driving a Car with an iPhone
    • Where did yall find that car?
      We searched for awhile on Craigslist before finding "Wendy". We paid just $300 for a working Delta Olesmobile 88' (actually made in 1990). A nice lady in south Austin sold us this car with no idea what we had planned for it.
    • Will this app work with any car?
      Well to be clear the app only controls the motors we installed in the car. This same set up could work with any car, but it requires some hefty modifications. With a FIRST Kit of Parts and an iPhone and a lot of engineering know how you could make this system work for any car.
    • Can I download your App from the iTunes App Store?
      Unfortunately no, shortly after we released this video Apple added a line to their terms and agreements for the App Store that explicitly forbids apps the operate cars.
    • Are you using the FIRST (FRC) Kit of Parts?
      Heck Yes! We are big fans of FIRST, and we love the hardware included in the kit of parts. For this project we used the digital sidecar, power distribution board, and motor controllers directly from the FRC 2009 KoP. We uses a cRIO 9074, which is a little different from the FRC cRIO, but the same code would work on both systems, we just happen to have a 9074 laying around.
  • Real-Life Mario Kart
    • Where is the Real-Life Mario Kart set up available?
      Unfortunately we were only able to rig up the karts temporarily at Austin’s Park in Austin, TX, so there is no permanent setup. Our goal is to inspire others to create their own systems. We'd be happy to help you build your own, just contact us.
    • Wait, did you run over real bananas?
      For the banana item, we used plastic fruit and duct taped the RFID card inside the bunch. The first car to come into range with the RFID must hold the item in their kart for two seconds in order for it to be activate. Once the bananas are activated, the next kart to come into range will have the steering locked to one side using a hydraulic piston.
    • What's the deal with "May-rio" Kart?
      Tim is from New Jersey. He talks funny. What are you going to do?
    • So are they actually driving the karts?
      Yes, each player drives their own kart like in a normal race. Each item gives a bonus or punishment. For instance, the mushroom unlocked 100% throttle (normally 75%) for five seconds, and the bananas lock your steering to one side for three seconds.

Why are you even looking down ​here​?