Engineer and entrepreneur Adriaan Smit was born in South Africa and grew up on a farm in the academic city of Potchefstroom. As a young boy, the always inquisitive Smit spent hours taking toys apart and figuring out how things worked. Growing up on a farm nurtured his curiosity; he built tree houses and zip lines and helped fix things around the farm. In high school, he took additional science classes and became interested in computers and electronics. For his senior project, Smit developed an automatic water pump controller to keep the water tank full on his family’s farm. This led to a small business when neighbors started asking for one of their own.
After graduating from high school, Smit moved to Walla Walla, Washington to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He subsequently obtained a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oregon State University (OSU) and is now an engineer at Intel. On nights and weekends, Smit can be found working on entrepreneurial projects. Currently, he is focused on relaunching the WavyWand, the first product he designed after graduating from OSU.
An interactive messaging toy based on the “persistence of vision” phenomenon, the WavyWand is a battery-operated toy wand with 48 LEDs along its length. When waved from side to side, it “draws” glowing messages and pictures in mid-air. Animations, images, and text messages can be customized. Smit originally sold the WavyWand between 2005 and 2007 before he joined Intel. He has kept the website up since 2007 and still gets regular requests from people wanting to buy a WavyWand, so he decided to bring it back this year, with a few improvements. Smit is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to update the WavyWand’s design, set up the manufacturing line, and get the product into customer’s hands.