#Holograms, #VR, #Technology for Kids, #HomeSecurity
Posted on February 15th, 2017
02/15/2017 @ Wework Chelsea, 115 West 18th Street, NY, 4th floor
The speakers were
- Jon Troutman, Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Canary (all-in-one smart home security system)
- Bethany Koby, Founder and CEO at Technology Will Save Us (DIY technology kits for kids)
- Sophia Dominguez, Founder and CEO at SVRF (the first search and discovery engine for VR content) and Founder at AllThingsVR (weekly curated newsletter highlighting top VR news)
- David Rose, Founder and CEO at PRSONAS (interactive self-service holograms)
The first speaker, David @ PRSONAS spoke about their product which is a hologram persona that can serve as a greeter at retail stores: provide product information, financial guidance, intake of medical symptoms, etc. The greeter is a flat holographic image of a person in what David called 2 ½-d display.
The software behind the hologram can provide appropriate hand gestures, show videos, instruct users to input data on a tablet, etc.
David talked about how they have customized the image to avoid falling into the uncanny valley (close to human-looking so feels creepy) by modeling the image as a non-human character.
Next, Sophia @ SVFR spoke about how her company is striving to become the common site for distribution of VR, #AR and #MR videos. She likened today for VR as the early 1990’s were for Yahoo, when distribution of web content was still in its infancy.
She talked about the barriers to widespread VR production. These include lack of universally available hardware to record VR, lack of editing tools, but most importantly, we don’t yet know how to tell a story taking advantage of the VR experience.
Next, Bethany @TechnologyWillSaveUs spoke about how her company is creating kits for students to experiment in creating their own technology. The kits contain sensors, motors, etc. and are linked to a programming language on their web portal which is an extension of Scratch.
As an example she demonstrated a programmable wrist band that can react to motion, etc.
Bethany then talked about their company strategy which emphasizes a range of products.
- Create a range of products: variety of prices, can create bundled products
- Product-market-fit: hardware is more difficult, so put development is on a tight production schedules with lots of feedback. Monitor ROI for various products.
- By having a range of product, there are activities for all parts of the company at any given time.
She talked about how the company strives to stay ahead of the competitions (Little Bits, Lego Mindstorms) by carefully target price points and creating a wide range of products for different age groups.
Finally, John @Canary talked about their stand-alone, in-home security system which is connected to an app on your phone.
He emphasized the importance of Product design = Relationship design
- Quality time – the app needs to interactive. They made it easier to access the time line of videos taken by the system
- Crisis management – can contact the police if there is a notification – help the homeowner overcome a crisis: the assist the home-owner filing an insurance claim.
- Trust – connected-home customers are concerned about privacy. Use ICASlabs recently released device security protocols
- A little magic – surprise and delight. Good example is Netflix onboarding that asks for your movie preferences then starts recommending movies upon the first use.
John also mentioned that they store videos of arrivals and departures, temperature, air quality, how active are occupants. Videos are stored 24 hours or 1 month depending on the contract. They are partnering with insurance companies to get homeowner discounts for using Canary.
#InternetOfThings, #Drones, #Robots, and #Music
Posted on November 16th, 2016
11/16/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, NY, 4th floor
The speakers were
- Marco and Jack Parisi, Artists in Residence at ROLI. ROLI, a London-based music technology startup, is changing the way people make music. ROLI has just launched BLOCKS, a modular music studio, that will be featured at all Apple stores globally this holiday season. ROLI has raised $43M from FirstMark, Balderton and Foundry Group.
- David Lyman, Founder and CEO of BetterView (drone marketplace for aerial photography jobs)
- Leif Jentoft, Co-Founder of RightHand Robotics (intelligent machines for e-commerce order fulfillment)
- Charlie Key, Founder and CEO of Losant (IoT solution platform)
- Cormac Driver, Head of Product at Temboo (software stack for IoT applications)
Charlie Key @Losant talked about asset tracking.: fleet managment, shipment tracing, equipment tacking, heavy duty parenting. The package often consists of two parts: GPS tracking + communication (usually cellular). Hologram allows purchase of data by the byte with data sent every 5 minutes.
Use Google’sAPI to look up locations. Then check if inside a geofence.
David Lyman@BetterView captures and analyzes drone data. They have analyzed 4200 rooftops for insurance companies. Experts currently analyze the images. They are moving toward deep learning. The main drivers of the increased use of drones are Regulation, hardware, experience.
He sees a longer term opportunity: 5mm workers that should have a drone in their trucks – fence installers, HVAC maintenance.
Vaughn @Temboo: SAAS to connect actuators and sensors to the cloud, gave several examples of IoT in industry:
- Monginis Foods Ltd. – cakes and pastry in India, UK, EMEA: retrofit equipment and processes to implement IoT. Examples include
- retrofitting x-ray machines that scan every cake and pastry – automate alerts.
- Monitor freezers and refrigerators to reduce food spoilage.
- Place temperature sensors as oven monitors
- Integrate with payment and logistics systems to make everything more efficient.
- One customer monitors soil moisture, electrical conductivity, light – in agriculture
- Aircraft repair company – monitor parts storage and temperature and humidity of storage for audit. Tracks technical manuals.
- Manufacturer of lawn mowers includes sensors in motors
The usual configuration is Sensor monitoring – triggered notifications — actuator control. Vaughn gave the following advice to IoT startups:
- Start with a small but real, concrete problem
- Focus on saving time or money to create real value at the start
- Quick wins help build confidence and expertise
- Get internal backing based on having a a working system
- See how the data and functionality create additional uses
- See how existing application can be modified for other users
- Build new Iot capabilities on top of existing ones
Leif@Righthand robotics: Intelligent robotic order-picking systems, talked about opportunities he sees in the industrial robotics space.
Existing industrial ecosystem: build components + system integrators -> end application
Most of the cost is in integration, so he is looking for systems that are configurable by end users (simpler integration) . Examples include: Universal robotics (UR5), ReThink robotics (Sawyer), Franka produce collaborative robotics that users can program.
He gave some examples of industrial robotic applications:
- Robots as a service – a machine that thins the small lettuce plants. Farmers can rent when they need it.
- Navii is used by Lowes to tell customers were to find items in inventory.
He sees the key is having machines learning to handle variation as manual labor is hard to scale.
Finally, Roli, demonstrated a music technology that increases the flexibility and capabilities of accomplished musicians while being easy enough for beginners to create their own music.
Their original device in 2012 replaced a keyboard with a continuous sensitive surface: The Seaboard. They are introducing a more general devices (the block) that has the flexibility to play the sounds of multiple instruments, but in a simple and elegant package.
Hardwired: product #design and delivering #magic
Posted on June 11th, 2016
06/07/2016 @ WeWork, 115 West 18rd Street, NY, 4th floor
New Lab and Techstars talked briefly before the four speakers:
- Martin Broen, VP of Global Product Design at Pepsi
- Chris Allen, Founder and CEO of iDevices (connected home products)
- Bob Coyne, Founder and CTO of WordsEye (create 3D scenes simply by describing them in words)
- Josh Clark, Founder of Big Medium (design strategy and user experience for a mobile, multiscreen world). Josh will talk about “magical UX for IoT”.
In the first presentation, Bob Coyne @Wordseye talked about his utility that takes a text description of a scene and creates an image matching that description. This allows users to create 3-d mages without complicated #3-d graphics programs.
They parse sentences to create a semantic map which can include commands to place items, change the lighting, reorient objects, etc. They see uses in education, gaming, and image search.
[Graphics are currently primitive and the manipulations are rough, but there are only 7 months old. Has promise for creating avatars and scenes for game prototypes. Text lack the subtly of gestures, so text may need to be supplemented by gestures or other inputs.]
In the second presentation, Chris Allen @ iDevices – developers of connected home products and software – talked about the evolution of the company from an initial product in 2009 which was a connected grill.
Since then they have raised $20 million, were asked by Apple to develop products for HomeKit, currently market 7 HomeKit enabled products.
Experiences he communicated:
- Do you own research (don’t rely on conventional wisdom): despite being told that $99 was too high a price, they discovered that reducing the price to $75 did not increase sales.
- Resist pivoting away from your vision, especially when you have not intellectual property advantage: a waterproof case for phones failed.
- Create a great work environment and give your workers equity
- They build products that are compatible across platforms, but concentrate on just the three main platforms: Siri, Google, Amazon.
Next, Josh Clark @BigMedium talked about his vision of the future of interfaces: they will leap off the screen combining #speech and #gestures. They will be as magically as the devices in the world of Harry Potter. Unlike the Google glass, which was always an engineering project, we should be asking how can we make any object (even of a coffee cup) do more: design for the thing’s essential ‘thingness’.
Technology should be invisible, but magical:
- You can stand in front of a mirror memory and see how you look with a different color dress, or replay a video of what you look like when you turn around or do a side-by-side comparison with a previously worn dress.
- Asthmapolis site – when you have an asthma attack, you tap an app. Over time you can see across individuals their locations when they have an attack.
- A hackathon app using the Kinect in which one gestures to grab an image off a video so a still image from that moment appears on the phone.
It’s a challenge of imagination.
If the magic fails, we need to make sure the analogue device still works.
[In some cases, magic may not be enough. For instance, Asthmapolis pivoted away from ashma alone and now concentrates on a broader range of symptoms ]
In the last presentation, Martin Brioen@Pepsi talked about how his design team uses #prototyping to lead the development of new ideas.
Different groups within Pepsi have different perspectives and different priorities, so each views ideas differently, but to the get a consensus they all was to need to interact with the new product so they can see, touch, …
At each phase of development you use a different tools concentrated on the look of it, the feel of it, the functionality, etc. At each stage people need to interact with it to test it out. Don’t wait until you have a finished product. Don’t skip steps. Consider the full journey of the consumer;
Employ the least expensive way to try it out
They are not selling product, they are selling experiences: they create a test kitchen for the road.
HardwiredNYC: #hardware startups, #drones, #VC, #AutonomousVehicles
Posted on May 12th, 2016
05/11/2016 @WeWork, 115 West 18th Street, 4th floor, NY
There were six presentations starting with two brief introductions to companies and their products. Three speakers talked about products and investing in hardware. Adam Jonas closed the evening by describing a roadmap for the future of cars.
- Adam Jonas, Head of Global Auto Research Team, Morgan Stanley (Adam will discuss the autonomous vehicle market)
- Dan Burton, Founder and CEO of DroneBase (drone marketplace)
- Avidan Ross, Founder of Root/Ventures (early-stage hardware VC firm)
- Jonathan Frankel, Founder and CEO of Nucleus (smart home intercom)
In the first presentation, George Popescu@lampix talked about their product which projects a desktop image on any surface so that surface becomes a computer screen, a shared documents or piece of paper, etc. A projector shines an image on the surface making the surface a touch screen, drawing pad, etc. to view, edit or share materials.
Next, David @samlabs showed physical devices that can linked to each other using a visual interface. In this way push buttons can control lights, motors, tweets, cameras, etc. creating ways a non-programmer can prototype a hardware device.
Some configurations are monitoring the taking of medication from a medication box, squeezing a pillow to send a message, counting twitter tweets and activate motors when a hashtag is tweeted.
The product is somewhat similar to that offered by LittleBits.
Jonathan Frankel @nucleuslife.com (Intercom system which connects anyone to anyone, anywhere using a tablet like a home intercom.) spoke about how to increase the odds of success as a hardware startup:
- Keep it simple, stupid – hardware has a lot of complexity. When possible choose off-the shelf. Otherwise costly and requires extra time; also better interoperability, supply chain, lead times, avoids unknown unknowns.
- Cash flow > BOM . need to manage growth as well as the financing arrangements
- Hire DB / sales early – crowdfunding may not work, so you need to start selling early
- Carpe diem – small window of opportunities. Seizing them makes the difference.
- In-person > video > phone > email
- Get out more – network, network, network
- Put away the NDAs – being open gets you feedback and partners
- Who is on your mailing list? – follow-up with selected people on your email list
- Don’t work insanely hard – you need to have the emotional fortitude to overcome the valleys. So take some time off. Okay to mix business and pleasure.
NucleusLife elected to do a private presale (in favor of crowdfunding) since they wanted the ability to brand and control the entire experience start to finish. They also felt that their customer base was different from the early adopters
Next, Matt Turck interviewed Avidan Ross @Routeventures (seeds hardware startups). His interests are in physical products, with the emphasis on being an enabler in disrupting established businesses: they especially like low cost robotics and connectivity. They invest in only 6 to 8 deals per year so they can have lots of contact and input with each startup.
Their investments back their belief that robots are best when working in conjunction with humans
- Shapertools – handtools that assist the user when doing precision work
- Superflex – light weight clothing with actuation to augment human capabilities such as performing tasks involving standing and running.
- Plethera – software that works with 3-d plots (solidworks) to help you optimize the milling process.
They avoid one-off IoT products and hardware whose only advantage is lower production costs. They instead look for long term value and want to avoid the future struggle to maintain margins as technology and competition change over time. In the same vein, they want to price appropriately and don’t believe that products using Arduino’s or Raspberry Pi’s are scalable.
Design is important, but not core to IoT. Function comes before looks.
Dan Burton @ Dronebase talked about the rapidly evolving use of drones and their changing uses: real estate, mining inventory management, construction monitoring, etc. For instance, only within the past year has drone pilot become a profession.
Drone capabilities are increasing rapidly as a new generation of drones is created every 6 months. This has lead to the same dynamics as in smartphones, where retail products are often at the cutting edge lead by DJI. This means that most professional work is done with off-the shelf drones.
The systems making up a drone: software, gimbals, cameras, autopilots are all getting better exponentially. Battery technology lags.
Currently top end drones are accurate to 2 cm. One of the most promising next steps would be a light-weight Lidar system to get accuracy within 1mm.
Adam Jonas @MorganStanley gave a roadmap of how cars might evolve. He considered two dimensions:
- driver driven vs. autonomous
- owned vs car sharing
Based on these two dichotomies, he sees a rapid transition from owned-driver driven to shared-autonomous model of car usage. With this transition comes a change in point of view from number of vehicles sold to the number of miles traversed in a year. This transition will also create many economic winners and losers, but it is less clear who wins and who loses. Even with a transition from gas to electric cars, it is unclear whether the world-wide demand for gasoline increases (more mileage) or decreases (greater efficiency in energy usage).
HardwiredNYC: #drones, #AmazonEcho, #SmartLuggage, #SmartCities
Posted on April 5th, 2016
04/05/2015 @WeWork, 115 W 18th Street, NY
The following speakers presented
- Donn Morrill,Senior Manager of Solutions Architecture at Amazon Alexa
- Joao Barros, Founder and CEO of Veniam (networks of connected vehicles)
- Josh Udashkin, Founder and CEO of Raden (smart connected luggage)
- Brian Streem, Founder and CEO of Aerobo (designs, builds, and operates drones for media clients)
Brian Streem @Aerobo (build and service drones) talked about the drone market. After showing two videos: Chromaticity and Paint the Sky (about the shooting of Chromaticity), Brian spoke about
- The Aerobo mini – a lightweight drone designed to provide live broadcast quality feeds which can be transmitted up to 3 miles.
- They have a 333 exemption from regulation which is required to commercially fly a drone in the U.S. They anticipate new FAA rules that may relax some of the current requirements, such as requiring a pilot’s license for commercial flights. Also he anticipates that a category of micro UAVs will be created with alternative licensing requirements.
Next, Donn Morrill @AmazonEcho talked about the hardware and software of the echo and how Amazon is targeting it to be the center of smart home integration. He provided some insights into the design philosophy of the software including
- They will probably not release tools to analyze the tone, volume, speed of speech detected by the API since they are sensitive to user experience and want to product the brand
- In a similar vein, they do not plan to allow skills to be self-initiating (all skills require you to initiate the conversation) to avoid verbal spam.
Next, Matt Turck interviewed John Udashkin & Justin @Raden (luggage with a battery and Bluetooth). Justin initiated the product following extensive travel experience when he worked in the fashion industry. Fashion dictated the design of a product with simple lines as in the iPhone and Beats.
Justin and John noted
- Justin researched the luggage industry under the tutelage of a retired executive at Tumi.
- This contact allowed him to gain credibility when looking for a manufacturing partner
- They chose VC over crowd funding for its greater flexibility
- John formerly worked at Quirky, so he had the manufacturing contacts needed for the electronics
- Integrated the electronics was difficult since luggage and electronics factories are very different: luggage factories are larger and dirtier, electronics factors are smaller and emphasize cleanliness.
- They were careful to avoid problems passing air transport security such as limiting the size of the battery and making it removable. Also wiring and Bluetooth can be accessible if the bag is inspected.
- They eventually see their app as a full utility platform with information such as TSA wait times, real time flight updates, etc.
- They are looking beyond online sales and see the advantages of retail outlets such as malls.
- Their product can be seen at a popup store at 72 Spring Street, NY
They also talked about pivots during development
Design change. They tested a biometric lock, but found it was not useful and can create electronics issues since luggage gets knocked around.
The electronics enclosure was originally different, but it suffered damage & wire breakage. The eventual design has a strong backplate to shock proof and water proof the electronics.
Finally, Joao Barros @Veniam talked about the communication network developed in Porto, Portugal (also known for the elegant arch-truss bridge constructed there by Gustav Eiffel). Porto has a mesh network consisting of wi-fi hotspots supplemented by hot spots in vehicles. These hotspots allow seamless integration of wi-fi, cellular and 5.9GHz networks.
Joao said that vehicles offer an ideal platform for hotspots
- They are mobile so they can collect data throughout the city = smart city
- Their batteries are recharged by the engine
- They are large enough that it is not an inconvenience to have a box large enough to hold multiple communications devices
- They can provide in-vehicle entertainment
- They can be used as an emergence communications backup for other systems
- They can be used to avoid vehicle collisions
The key technology is the ability to perform seamlessly handoffs across different networks (wi-fi, cell, 5.9GHz).
Specific applications are sensors of garbage cans indicating when they have already been emptied and heart rate monitoring of drivers indicating issues on the roads.
The system is also installed in Singapore and they will soon announce a rollout in the U.S.
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.
Hardwired: #VirtualReality Devices and #Drones
Posted on January 12th, 2016
01/12/2016 @ WeWork, 115 W 18th St, NY
Four companies talked about virtual reality devices and flying drones
• Nicholas Horbaczewski and Ryan Gury, CEO and Director of Product at The Drone Racing League (drone racing sports league)
• Amir Rubin, Founder and CEO of Paracosm (cloud-based 3D mapping)
• Andre Lorenceau, Founder & CEO of LiveLike (VR sports broadcasting)
• Jan Goetgeluk, Founder and CEO of Virtuix (immersive virtual reality system)
In the first presentation, Andre Lorenceau & Jeremie Lasnier @Livelike spoke about developing a system so sports fans at home can view the game as if they were in the stadium. Their system will eventually allow fans at home to use a virtual reality headset to look around the space and do on-demand access of other views of the game.
Their system is designed to use current in-stadium video streams (the ability to see different parts of the playing field will initially be based on a single feed from a wide-angle camera at midfield), but be upgradable as new in-stadium, streaming technology is rolled out. (This differentiates them from NextVR which is building a streaming platform from the ground-up)
Andre and Jeremie talked about the challenges in getting VR right. One of the challenges is lack of a standard controller with different controllers specifying different gestures for similar functions. Interacting with a touch pad may not be correct in some circumstances, while pressing a virtual touchpad may be hard to do. Monitoring one’s gaze may work in some cases, but they need to avoid unwanted changes in the video when starring at parts of the action.
On the up side, there are many new opportunities to enhance as well as monetize the experience. Electronic placement of ads and user services are a possibility. These could be similar to the lines superimposed on the field during football broadcasts or they could be virtual objects moving through the space (they showed a video in which a Star Wars ship flew over the playing field).
In the second presentation, Nicholas Horbaczewski and Ryan Gury @DroneRacingLeague spoke about their soon-to-launched drone racing series. In these competitions, professional drone pilots will fly standardized drones over a race course. The fliers will wear goggles showing a video feed from the drone as the drones fly at over 80 miles per hour. The course will take less than 2 minutes to fly with winners determined by their performance over a series of heats.
Nicholas and Ryan spoke about their tuneup races held in Yonkers and in Sun Life Stadium in Miami. They prepare 80 to 100 rigs prior to the competition with all rigs made with the same hardware, but tuned to the liking of each competitor. They talked about five keys to a successful race
- Performance – drones are constructed from the highest quality parts with multiple identical rigs provided to each competitor for the four day event – includes practice, preliminary heats, finals
- Visibility – the sport is a spectator sport so the drones need to be visible from the ground. To do this, each drone is covered with high intensity lights with each participant identified by a different color.
- Pit crew – drones must be able to withstand crashes with minimal damage, so they can be repaired quickly. Everything needs to be tested.
- Stability – Due to the number of drones needed, each needs to be assembled and tested quickly. This necessitates maximal use of circuit boards and minimal wiring. Drones also have a large number of customizable settings.
- Radios – use analog video feeds to the pilots. (digital video has latency and also drops frames) they need to install a robust network for communications throughout the course even as it snakes through tunnels and around obstacles.
Returning to VR, Amir Rubin @Paracosm talked about the software his company produces to take a point cloud extracted from the physical world and create a picture of the surfaces that can be used to create a virtual world.
He first talked about why an accurate picture of the world is needed to create a truly immersive game to insure the following are true of the experience.
- Need correct perspective & occlusion
- World locking – persistence in physical world, no jitter
- interactions – shadows, physics, path planning
to solve these issues one needs to
- know shape and geometry of the world –
- know where I am in the world
Paracosm takes coordinates of objects extracted from the world using remote sensing devices such as the Kinect or RealSense (Project Tango) and sends them offline for processing to create a model of a space detailing walls furniture and other interior content. The offline processing removes the extra mesh points that explode memory and slow down processing (for instance the Project
Tango by itself cannot retain all the points is sees so it culls them, thereby limiting the scope of any game played on it). The refined set of points is then returned to the device (in this case the Project Tango) to serve as the framework for the augmented reality world.
Once this is done, the device can create characters that appear to interact correctly with the real world or superimpose data or views on the real world.
This offline processing makes a more true-to-life augmented reality game, but cannot react quickly if objects move in the space. This means that consumer product is still in the future. For this reason, Paracosm is concentrating on commercial engineering applications which would only involve static items.
In the final presentation, Jan Goetgeluk @ Virtuix talked about the Omni, which his company produces. The Omni allows you to walk around in the virtual world in a device that looks like a toddler’s walker. The device holds you in place, but allows you to walk in any direction (an omni-directional treadmill). The device will be sold starting this month for $699 and has no moving parts to track you footsteps.
Jan talked about his personal journey from Belgium, to the U.S., to Rice University, to investment banking, to entrepreneur. He talked about how it has taken him 8 years to come to production including three rounds of fund raising totaling 8mm USD. He talked about the delays and challenges even for a product that had early enthusiastic support from the gaming community, Kickstarter and Shark Tank.
Hardwired: Smart Air Vents, Art Displayed Electronically, #Fencing, #Logistics for #Startups
Posted on October 28th, 2015
10/17/2015 @Wework, 115 W 18th Street, NY
The four speakers were
- Tim Morehouse, Olympic Medalist, US Olympic Fencing Team
- Renee DiResta, Co-Author of “The Hardware Startup: Building Your Product, Business, and Brand” and VP Business Development at Haven (online platform for ocean freight)
- Ryan Fant, Founder and COO of Keen Home (smart vents for the connected home)
- Vladimir Vukicevic, CEO of Meural (art streamed to your wall via Connected Canvas)
Ryan Fant@Keen Home (will sell a smart vent at Lowe’s starting next week) talked about the challenges they have faced over the last few months getting their product into stores. Ryan walked the audience through the requirements to place an item in Lowe’s stores.
- Break packs containing two units
- Master cartons which hold several break packs
- UPC and faceplate labels so Lowe’s can track stock
- Serial numbers on all items and matching numbers on the break pack and back side of each retail box
- Pallet labels
- Overseas logistics – need to book product from Shenzhen to Hong Kong
- Customs forms
- They also need a partner such as FedEx, Flexport, or DHL
- Their warehousing in Denver
- Preparation of in-store displays to bring visibility. These include physical displays, screen showing to configure your home and a video commercial to run on those screen.
Their rollout at Lowe’s was further complicated since they were unable to get product to Lowe’s 6 distribution center prior to the rollout next week, so they needed to ship product directly to the 900 Lowe’s POs for rollout next Monday.
In the next presentation, Vlad @Meural spoke about their dedicated hardware device that displays high resolution art images on a wall display. Meural will start shipping in a month.
Vlad talked about the main driving influences as the product was being developed
- Start with the creators. Incubated in an art studio in the lower east side
- What they create will influence people. Portrait orientation important to distinguish it from TV. Have a haze cover that absorbs light. Also have wood frame. Image algorithmically optimized.
- Need to be able to update the product even after its delivered. So can update over the air.
The display is run on System on chip that is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi. The display has a sensor that adjusts colors for the ambient light. It can an also be set turn off if the ambient lights are turned off.
They were initially self funded and then had a 500k seed round.
They currently control the entire system, so they can control the scarcity of images.
Their team consists of Vlad (COO), chief designer, CTO, operations (supply chain/manufacturers), head of partnerships who gets content.
Now if you buy it, you get full access to a full library of content. In the future you will have the opportunity to get subscriptions for specific artists or galleries.
They have a utility patent on the full package
Next, Tim Morehouse @XGenFencing talked about developing a new technology for refereeing fencing competitions. As an Olympic silver medalist, he wanted to bring fencing to schools, but faced the barrier of high equipment costs to monitor touches. The current scoring system technology remains virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1932 and is expensive, requires a lot of setup, and breaks easily.
Tim’s first prototype was a chest plate that registered strikes.
Tim demonstrated his technology which put sensors in foils and lights on the epee guard so you know when there is a touch. The system also locks out so only the first touch is recognized and uses an accelerometer to track when one lunges (also tracks dangerous sword movements by beginners). This system could eventually eliminate any discretion by judges.
Audience comments revealed interest in tracking performance and moving fencing into the virtual world.
Renee @Haven talked about the complexity of logistics faced by startups.
She first talked about the complexity of tariffs and how even slight modification in the imported product affect taxes. Renee then talked about many of the practical considerations when bringing your product onshore from the offshore manufacturer:
- Air vs. Ocean – 5x cost different, but can be higher if a holiday rush or if labor issues. Might ship 25% by air to guarantee the initial back is delivered on time.
- LCL vs FCL (less than container load vs full container load) – often cheaper to book an entire container. Cheaper since deliver directly to destination. Also if there is a problem with the shipment in the other half of the container, then you may be stuck at the dock.
- Have a guy who can do negotiating. Have the price broken down, not all-in
- If doing truck to a port in China, it might be better to let the local person do it since they are most familiar with the shipping. (a selected violation of the previous point)
- Deciding whether to take ownership at factory, or at the seaport, or on shore,…
- Warehousing vs fulfillment – inhouse or outsourced. Amazon and Shipwire are the most used by startups.
Haven is a market place to connect buyers and sellers of shipping capacity and helps startups understand the supply chain.
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)
Hardwired: #products, the tactics and strategy of product development
Posted on June 10th, 2015
06/09/2015 @WeWork, 115 W 18th St, NY
The four speakers were
- Niall Murphy, CEO ofEVRYTHNG (IoT platform for smart consumer products)
- Adam Gettings, CEO ofLeeo (smart, connected nightlight)
- Joerg Tewes, CEO ofAvegant (creator of Glyph, an audio and visual headset)
- Danielle Applestone, CEO ofOther Machine Co. (creator of Othermill, a mill that cuts away wood, metal, and plastic)
Joerg @Avegant talked about their product which is a near-eye video projector with a 4k resolution. Joerg left Logitech a year ago to become CEO of Avegant, which was founded in Michigan and then relocated to the Bay Area. Avegant has developed a superior way to view video using 2 million micro-mirrors to reflect an image on the retina.
The device is compatible with current variable products and contains a head tracker.
They raised initial capital of $1.5mm in Feb 2014 using Kickstarter. They just closed a $20mm round of series B funding.
Their products are concentrating on 3 target applications: Immersion video, first person viewing, augmented/virtual reality. Their initial product is Glyph which superficially looks like headphones, but contains the projectors on the “headband”. They plan to go into production by fall 2015. Follow-on products include 1. Drone first person view. 2. VR/AR devices.
The second speaker, Danielle is the CEO of @OtherMachineCo which builds a milling machine guided by 3-d files. She concentrated on the lessons learned running the company. Danielle started by outlining how to assess the financial viability of an idea.
- Be very specific about the market
- Determine if the market is big enough to support a company
- Consider where you will be in 3 years – how much will you earn in 3 years
- How much does it cost to run the company
You should assess the following
- Describe buyer
- Identify the friction – the reason the buyer would buy the item
- Identify the value of the product
The cost of production should look at an initial 3 year period. The following are cost considerations
- A person costs $150k/year
- A company with heavy R&D will be 25% of all expenses.
- Software is a lot cheaper.
- Cash neutrality matters more for hardware companies because we are more risky
- Need to earn 3 years of operating income in the first 2 years of sales.
- You can only expect 5% market penetration. => your market needs to be 20x your operating costs.
If this cost analysis shows that the market is not sufficiently big you have some options:
- Add more markets – but this dilutes your focus
- Get fewer people – but this slows development
- Build a different product
There also adjustments you can make to the manufacturing plan
- Flexibility – don’t want to lock yourself in to early
- Speed – how long can you wait to go into market
- Cost – should sell for 3x cost to give you some cushion
Danielle proposed some manufacturing guidelines as production grows
- Build first 1000 yourself to learn about to develop it
- 1-5k build in-house and nearby outsourced parts
- 5-10k local outsourcing – no ocean plane rides
- 10k+ fully outsourced, global
She emphasized the importance of collecting daily data from the start of manufacturing – they have a web app that tracks the parts and entire assembly process. Data should include
- product data – how long does it take, what it costs,
- product history – which parts when into which products (makes it easy to detect defects and improvements)
- support tracking – know when to scale support
The last two speakers talked about their view on generating ideas for new products and strategic positioning these products.
Niall emphasized how to build a business based on a forward looking assessment of where technology will be and the products consumers will use. His market view arises from thinking backward from the future environment : what are the inevitable consequences of technologies (e.g. what services and requirements will arise due to Moore’s Law).
For instance, when he lived in Europe he founded a mobile internet in Europe which provided wi-fi over the cloud as he saw the infrastructure and devices creating a demand for mobile computing.
- open, global tech & spectrum
- devices & experience
- indoor access.
He considered the technology allies for developing the product (telecom carriers) and the retail outlets that could become key customers (e.g. McDonald’s)
Now his emphasis is on developing hardware or retail products that take advantage of the following trends:
- no product exists in isolation
- the web is the global platform
- products become part of the web – products need to exist natively in the web
idealistic vision -> clarity of execution strategy -> rational irrational allies
stick to the vision, vary the implementation strategy.
A physical object is no longer static if it is part of the internet of things.
Competitors he faces
- large software companies
- specific vertical providers
so he differentiates his products by
- being native to the web
- data management- who owns the data
- able to handle issues of scale – how to connect 100mm lightbulbs.
Adam @Leeo talked about his experience as a product developer based on 10 years experience in industrial design, mechanical engineering, systems resulting in more than 125 issued and pending patents.
He started by talking about the traditional view that hardware is expensive to develop; expensive to distribute; cannot be vertically integrated; low marginal cost of production; scares investors.
He then talked about how this view is changing: hardware is cheaper to developer (online CAD); distribution is cheaper with ecommerce and kickstarting; components are rapidly commoditized; marginal costs can be decreased with scale with a small team; investors are now interested in IoT and have crowd funding
- you still need to have a passion to build hardware
- Would you give it to a friend?
- Build it only if you are proud of it
- focus on early adopters
- launch lots of products
- build partnerships
- pick something that is important to you
To highlight these ideas, he talked about his experiences creating RoboteX, which makes robots to break down doors and defuse bombs
- first build non-functional prototypes
- iterate for 2 years
- raise money and build the solution
- shipped the product
He has also applied this approach at Leeo which builds consumer products. Their first product is a night light that looks pretty and connected as a smoke alarm.