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HardwiredNYC: #VR, #3-dPrinting, #Hoverboard lessons

Posted on March 8th, 2016


03/08/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th St., NY

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The four speakers were

Jonathan Schwartz @VoodooManufacturing talked about how his company fills a niche between very small batches to products and mass scale production. This is when one printer is too slow and injection molded parts are too slow to setup or too expensive for a small run.

Their factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has 125 desktop printers that can produce moderate volumes quickly. They do plastic printing and are not a competitor of Shapeways which concentrates on small batches of high end product.

Next, Yuval Boger@Sensics spoke about their open source (OSVR), middleware product which provides a single interface for a wide range of HMDs (head mounted display) and input devices (pointers, buttons, …) and programming software (such as Unity)

The OSVR is multiplatform, high-performance rendering utilities, highly extensible, open source

Cyril @HAX talked about the lessons learned from the explosion of interest in hoverboards. HAX was started 4 years ago in Shenzhen China as a hardware startup accelerator. They now also have offices in SF and NY and have funded 133 startups. Of these

  1. 60% B2C, 40% B2B – lifestyle, health, robotics, IoT (manufacturing)
  2. 60% in Americas 20% Europe, 20% Asia

Cyril talked about 8 lessons from the hoverboard craze

  1. The market is faster than our language – the market has already fragmented – you will only get part of the market.
  2. Commoditization has reached light speed. Protect yourself with science, software or a community
  3. Inventing is only half the battle – protecting and commercializing is just as hard (Segway was too early and too costly)
  4. Public domain invention – hoverboards benefit from the lack of patent in China’s “network model” of IP – profits area spread around with more minds competing to improve the produce or manufacturing process.
  5. Shenzhen’s supply chain power. The 5000 factories are very flexible in what they produce. Last year they were making tablets and selfie sticks. Now they are building hoverboards.
  6. Hits are hard to predict – in Jan 2015 at TechCrunch, there wasn’t much interest in hoverboards, but now they are a hit with an 80% drop in prices.
  7. Buyers beware – customers should do proper due diligence. Address? Fake components?
  8. The game is still on – 2016 will see a new set of winners and hoverboards will morph into other products

Cyril said that much of the low hanging fruit for B2C has been created and there is a lot of competition there. HAX concentrates more in B2B and emphasizes extremely early stage funding. Creating products quickly is one of the reasons they are located in Shenzhen.

He feels that Kickstarter prematurely gives away the initial idea, thereby making it harder to keep your advantage when creating/marketing the 2nd generation product which generates the actual profits.

Lastly, Jens Christensen was interviewed by Matt Turck. Jaunt VR is developed hardware and software tools for Cinematic VR. Jens received a Ph.D. in computer science before founding three companies: software middleware, swap books online, semantic search (sold to flipboard).

Jaunt works with Disney and other premium content providers. Even though they make a high end VR camera, they concentrate on creating software that makes creation of VR movies simple (an automated platform to create content).

They produce a high end camera since goPro needed extensive modifications to even get to a moderate level of acceptability (additional heat sink, storage, etc.)

They see the bigger challenge and opportunity in software: Stitching images together seamlessly continues to challenge. The need to guess at the depth makes it hard to create an automated rending solution. But, standard editing tools can be adapted and an experienced cameraman can be trained in a day to use the equipment.

The industry as a whole is still learning how to tell a story with VR as “there is no front of the camera”. Multiple points of action or special effects may need to be used to take advantage of the medium.

Other observations are

  1. Long term – subscription model when they have enough content (Netflix model)
  2. Most VR content will be accessible through smart phones, but release of high end headsets will generate awareness.
  3. Eventual users will wear light weight glasses that are driven off the phone. Also envisions use of see-through headsets.
  4. Currently people are comfortable watching for 10 to 15 minutes, but this limitation is primarily due to the obtrusive nature of headsets.
  5. Expects to see future generations of smart phones designed for VR.
  6. VR also needs to incorporate the social aspects of viewing. Facilitating conversations with friends would be helpful.
  7. For the immediate future he does not see VR impacting viewing habits for TV, movies, etc.


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