HardwiredNYC: #VR, #3-dPrinting, #Hoverboard lessons
Posted on March 8th, 2016
03/08/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th St., NY
The four speakers were
- Jens Christensen, Founder and CEO of Jaunt VR (the future of cinematic VR)
- Cyril Ebersweiler, Founder and Managing Director of HAX (full-stack accelerator for hardware startups)
- Yuval Boger, CEO of Sensics (open source VR head mounted displays)
- Jonathan Schwartz, Founder and CPO of VoodooManufacturing (mass 3D printing manufacturing services)
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
- 60% B2C, 40% B2B – lifestyle, health, robotics, IoT (manufacturing)
- 60% in Americas 20% Europe, 20% Asia
Cyril talked about 8 lessons from the hoverboard craze
- The market is faster than our language – the market has already fragmented – you will only get part of the market.
- Commoditization has reached light speed. Protect yourself with science, software or a community
- Inventing is only half the battle – protecting and commercializing is just as hard (Segway was too early and too costly)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buyers beware – customers should do proper due diligence. Address? Fake components?
- 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
- Long term – subscription model when they have enough content (Netflix model)
- Most VR content will be accessible through smart phones, but release of high end headsets will generate awareness.
- Eventual users will wear light weight glasses that are driven off the phone. Also envisions use of see-through headsets.
- Currently people are comfortable watching for 10 to 15 minutes, but this limitation is primarily due to the obtrusive nature of headsets.
- Expects to see future generations of smart phones designed for VR.
- VR also needs to incorporate the social aspects of viewing. Facilitating conversations with friends would be helpful.
- For the immediate future he does not see VR impacting viewing habits for TV, movies, etc.
Modeling a curved surface & #3dScanning and scanner post processing
Posted on September 29th, 2015
09/29/2015 @ Huge, 45 Main St, Brooklyn, NY
Val Angelov walked through the modeling of a hinge for an antique car and Arthur Spivey talked about lessons he has learned about post processing 3d scans.
Val Angelov gave practical tips for surface modeling illustrated by a walk through modeling a hinge. He started from a rough block model specifying how the part should fit on the car and gradually replacing blocked surfaces with curves. Advice included:
- You will need to hold onto some part of the part, so start there
- Take advantage of symmetry
- Minimize curvature change along the edges- first cut into sections then fit each section
- Avoid small surfaces and tight corners
- Revisit problem areas
Val then demonstrated how he designed the hinge:
- start with a solid piece with the overall split into sections
- split in half, do one side then mirror it over
- delete parts of the surface and replace them with new curved surfaces
- use boundary or loft to make sure surfaces mesh together smoothly
- use zebra stripes to see if the surfaces are continuous.
In the next talk, Arthur Spivey covered a wide range of topics on post processing the meshes from scans. He described the wide range of tools he uses and emphasized that you need to consider what you intend to do with the scan. The answer leads to the cost of the software, the number of tools you need to master, and the time invested.
Some of his comments were
- The NextEngine scanner is cheaper than Lidar, but still gives good results
- Meshlab is a good tool for viewing stl files (its also open source)
- There are many scanner technologies (laser, white light, …), but all will struggle to scan glass or metal objects
- Geomagic can display a point cloud and has tools for you to patch holes: either matching nearby curvature or using the tangent. It can also bring together multiple meshes and map out a best consensus (you need to identify at least 3 points that line up on the two meshes). There are further cleanup tools, such as one that remaps intersecting triangles.
- Importing an stl file as a surface body (instead of a graphics body) allows you to manipulate the image
- Other useful tools include Blender, Zbrush, Rhino, Modo, and Meshmixer. Each has its strengths and capabilities. Rhino, for instance, is excellent at flow log surfaces (take a surface and wrap it around a body). Modo maps mesh triangles into quadrangles. Quadrangles are easier to manipulate when making changes to the surface.
He concluded by talking about when to use mirroring to take advantage of surface symmetry and when not to use it. The downside is that creating half and mirroring it is that the object a seam where the parts join, but a seamless tube is often more conducive to further editing.
Hardwired: development steps, #RealSense from Intel, the #3dPrinting business
Posted on September 16th, 2015
09/15/2015 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, NY
Four speakers spoke about hardware products from cutting edge sensors to lessons learned developing hardware products.
The First speaker, Saar Yoskovitz @Augury talked about his company’s experience in lean hardware development. Augury was founded four years ago and produces vibration sensors tethered to a smart phone that analyze the mechanical performance of HVAC systems. Saar described their design and development process.
He started by noting that the technology is not that interesting in most products. The key questions to ask are
- What is the product?
- Who will buy it?
- Why will they pay for it?
He advocated an agile development process to get feedback for improvements as quickly as possible: fast iterations. Min effort to get max learning.
- Research : get out of the building, stick to the process. Determine the different players and what are their values. Identify risks. Create lean canvas showing key points.
- Minimum Viable Product – their initial hurdle was can they connect sensors to a smart phone?
- Alpha – start with smaller test sites – they gave prototypes to building technicians. Measure everything. Then approach larger customers- once you have a sense of the value
- Beta – you’ve proven the values, now start the design process. Get feedback by showing design options to customers. At the end of this step, put it in fancy bag and ship it to customers.
- Iterate – rapid prototyping, react -> fix -> improve. – Their initial connector was not robust so they first superglued the leads so they would not disconnect. Then they got better leads. Improve the process. Go with small iterations.
- Scale – validate the design, then invest into the machinery to create a production line
Be ready to adapt and improvise: “always carry pliers and superglue”.
Luke Iseman @ycombinator.com then talked about startups from the point of view of a seeder. Y has funded 940 startups with107 in the last semi-annual batch, taking 7% of the company for $120 in seed capital. Most of their startups have been for software, but they have increasing seeded hardware startups.
After warning that “the only reason to do hardware is to change the world”, Luke spoke about the important steps in that will help you get funded as a startup and help the chances of long term success: Make; show; iterate; sell; grow; tell; fail
- Make– create a prototype (otherwise it’s just an idea), e.g. bodyport – scale to measure blood pressure within 5 seconds
- Show – get feedback. TeaBot – creates customs blends of tea. Find out what customers want
- Iterate – improve the product. Nebia created a better shower head funded through kickstarter. They went through numerous iterations to find something that looks great and uses 30% less water
- Sell – Transcend Lighting – high efficiency led light to grow crops indoors. Found a niche market of buyers for their high intensity/high efficiency grow lights.
- Grow – Click and Grow – indoor herb garden selling plug-ins to the basic product. They are expanding their market by creating new products, such as a kitchen work table with lower, lighted shelves to grow herbs.
- Tell – compelling story otherwise you become a commodity – Tully sells condoms, but with a story and a style.
- Fail – Luna sells smart mattresses covers. They were initially rejected by Y, but have grown.
The key is to sell the product!
Between the second and third presentations, Bjorn Bollendorff @Panono displayed his product: a sphere containing 36 cameras to take a full set of images surrounding the location. Each camera has a resolution of 3meg and images can be manipulated on an ipad. They are starting to ship limited editions units ($1499) and will next create a $599 consumer version.
The third speaker, Mark Yahiro @ Intel/RealSense spoke about the sensors developed by Intel to give PCs/tablets/phones human-like spatial knowledge to change the way individuals interact with computers. The 3d camera creates a point-cloud that maps the locations of solid surfaces/points in the vicinity.
Sensors can monitor heart rate and increase the difficulty of a game when one’s heart rate increases. An app by ItSeez3d does real time 3d scanning. An application being developed with BodyLabs sweeps each side of the body and retains your measurements to exactly fit clothing and for health/fitness monitoring. He showed a video of the sensors guiding drones through a forest while avoiding the trees.
Mark then showed how Google’s Project Tango integrates these sensors with others to allow one to walk through a world created in Minecraft and integrate the virtual and physical worlds in an AR shooter game.
Matt Turck interviewed Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways which receives files and 3d prints objects which they ship to the customer. They print 200k designs per month.
The company was founded in the Netherlands and originally outsourced all production. They moved to New York and in 2010 they started doing their own 3d printing. Currently, they print 50-60% of their products in-house.
Over the past seven years they have seen printing evolve. Initially, printing was done using FDM (stratus) printers. Then home printers arrived and demand for FDM evaporated. They have also seen the printing expand to include gold & silver (for jewelry), porcelain (coffee mugs), etc. They have also led the evolution of the business by using smart methods to squeeze greater efficiency out of their current printers.
Peter also talked about the growing market providing accessories for drones. He also talked about how Hasbro works with independent designers who create accessories for Hasbro toys and the profits are split amongst Hasbro, the producer and the designer. This approach takes advantage of the low cost of initial production allows the community to start testing products and quickly determine what resonates with the market.
He sees a bright future for 3d printing since there are still many inefficiencies that will be eliminates by new technologies and greater efficiencies of scale with the increased sales of printers. Currently, raw materials are still expensive. Machines are built at too low a volume. This is no full color plastic. Printing is too slow. He also sees improvements in scanners and the software behind scanners to eliminate much of the barrier to 3d printing in contrast to the complexity of current CAD software.
Additional observations were
- Conductive ink not available yet, but coming to 3d printing in a year
- Carbon3d will speed up the printing process
- Eventually 3d printers will be able to stack individual atoms (MIT research)
#Prototyping a tech hardware product – best practices and opportunities
Posted on April 2nd, 2015
04/01/2015 Secaucus Library, 1379 Paterson Plank Road, Secaucus, NJ
David A. Rosen, CEO of TechX Foundry moderated 3 short presentations and a panel discussion by the followed presenters:
Dave MacFie @CimQuest spoke about the types of #3-d printing and their uses and tradeoffs. He started by saying that 3-d printing can be use in any of these steps in development and production
- Concept models
- Functional prototypes
- Manufacturing tools
- End-use parts
Design support : 1 & 2 are well established and widely used
Direct digital manufacturing: 3 & 4 are emerging areas
He made several recommendations
- Get a printer since it’s much faster to do it in house which allows you to iterate quicker. You can therefore test more models which leads to more innovation.
- Design with prototyping in mind – think about 3-d printing
- Consider using 3-d printed as a manufacturing tool. But consider that a 3d printed part may have different properties than an injection-molded part.
- Be prepared to do some finishing by hand since parts often don’t look pretty. Alternatively, you can use other processes that give a better finish
- Use a good 3d CAD model. Different models will be better at rending fine detail. Also check that the number of facets is adequate on curved surfaces. CAD models vary: Solidworks – good. Sketchup – less so.
- In production, the orientation of the part and the build style matter. Decisions can affect – strength vs speed vs aesthetics.
- If “I will wait for newer technology”, you will always be waiting. His view is that technology is not fundamentally changing now. It’s mainly going through a refinement stage.
During the Q&A, Dave spoke about some of the tradeoffs for specific types of 3-d printers:
Stereo lithography – (UV exposure converts a liquid to a solid) – pro: gives a fine finish con: degrades over time since affected by exposure to UV light.
Selector laser beam (fuse powder) – pro: durable product con: rough finish
Powder binder (corn starch, plastics,…) – ink jet with a liquid glue : pro: fast printing & can inject dyes to color logos, con: better for conceptual since it is not functional.
He recommended the Medical Design & Manufacturing show at the Javits Center in June as a way to see the wide range of 3-d printers.
Next, Tor Alden – @HSD: innovation & idea development, spoke about invention (this is not a product e.g. a patent) vs innovation (technology that makes it happen) and routes to take to go from prototype to production.
Some points he made were
- Understand the value of what you are doing. Create prototypes. See Lean startup – Eric Ries
- But it’s hard to be an early startup. 1 in 1000 succeed.
- What is the value proposition? What is the market opportunity?
- Crowd funding examples: Rockethub, indiegogo, kickstarter, medStartr – but not a lot of success, no path
- Grants – e.g. DARPA, NIH, SBIR/STIR – geared for early stage dev, harder to pivot, more lead time needed
- Venture funds – profitable in 5 to 8 years, take a lot of equity, look for large addressable market
- Rapid prototyping can even be simple as a foam study model or 3d printing.
- Consider a virtual product for testing; use fluid dynamic analysis using finite element analysis
- Key selling point is level of professionalism: experts, product idea, packaging, quality of graphics, size of audience…
- May need to make a decision about manufacturability (# of parts and how they are assembled) vs aesthetics of the finished product
Next, Amado Batour talked about his experience founding switch2health, which created wearables that track physical activities and reward and was eventually acquired by fitbit. He distilled his experiences into the following points:
- Have a plan and have money – in the best of all worlds
- Know who is making your stuff – due diligence on the supplier is essential
- Nothing beats a product demo – try doing stuff, get items into the hands of people
- Communicate in any way you can – be specific, especially with your suppliers
- A prototype is not a manufacturable product – first consider how to get first 50 pieces out. Then consider how to get the next 500 pieces produced, etc.
- Work with really smart people
- Understand your limits – know what you cannot do – e.g. you might not want to build boxes since you can buy nice enclosures from third parties
- Presentation really, really matters – hire a good designer to brand your stuff. E.g. go to behance or 99designs to get it designed
- Document the crap out of everything – photograph everything, you will always find it useful.
- Do challenging side projects for your own good – e.g. he is creating a robot which stimulated him to learn more about 3-d printing, arduino, etc. it’s about iterating. Prototyping will teach you how to solve problems.