Pre-Orders Start Today

The wait is over. We’ve finished the design, iterated on the hardware, and written thousands of lines of code. Now, we’re ready to start collecting pre-orders for Moment, the first device that communicates entirely through your sense of touch.
For the first 24 hours, backers will receive a special early bird price of $99 — you won’t be able to get this price anywhere else, ever again.

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3D Printing: Ready for mass market?

Shrek 3D Print

While revising the 3D design for Moment, I started off using a Makerbot Replicator at TechShop. These machines were the first to usher in an era of accessible consumer 3D printing. The bundled software is easy to use, and the printers generally work well. That said, with a $2,000 price tag, they aren’t truly accessible to the average consumer, and a TechShop membership can also be expensive if you don’t use it regularly. With affordable rapid-prototyping in mind, I began asking “Can you get started 3D printing for less?”.

Now, with the Monoprice MP Select Mini, you can. At an MSRP of $200, I decided to get one and try it out for myself. It doesn’t disappoint. It works with a wide range of filaments (ABS, PLA, XT Copolyester, PET, TPU, TPC, FPE, PVA, HIPS, Jelly, Foam, Felty), including a PLA-based wooden filament from Hatchbox. After 3D printing a few models of Shrek and some geometric Pokemon, I was impressed.

Pokemon 3D Print

The Good

  • absurdly cheap ($200)
  • heated print bed
  • compatible with many different filaments
  • solid exterior built of steel and aluminum (very few plastic parts)
  • full color LCD display on the printer
  • MicroSD card slot
  • works with Cura software from Ultimaker
  • possibly capable of connecting to wifi networks in a future firmware update
  • print bed leveled out of the box
  • active user community
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • extremely accurate Z-axis motor (possibly more than 100 micron resolution)

The Bad

  • limited print space (120x120x120 millimeters)
  • very minimal instructions – debugging can be hard
  • cheap built plate material (scratches easily)
  • imprecise temperature regulation
  • no enclosure or hood around prints
  • non-standard parts that require warranty replacement or buying a new printer

Conclusion

If you’re looking to get started with 3D printing, or want to try out different filament types inexpensively, buy this printer. Its price sets it apart from the competition. Any comparable printer is easily 3x the price, but the additional cost may also come with improved reliability—only time will tell whether the MP Select Mini is a durable product.

Our 10 Favorite Phoenix Coffee Shops for Productivity

Giant

Giant is our favorite place to work, as long as it isn’t too crowded – its clean interior has a variety of places to sit and work – bar stools, regular tables, benches, and cushioned seats. During the day, it’s often very quiet, but sometimes it can be crowded at peak hours.

Giant Coffee

Lux

Although it can be loud at times, Lux is a very large coffee shop with a lot of space. A single cup of drip coffee also buys you unlimited refills, so you can sit and work for several hours as long as you don’t mind a little bit of a crowd. For those looking to work into the hours of the evening (something startup founders may be a bit too familiar with), Lux also offers many local beers on tap, providing a lively evening work environment.

Lux at Central

Continue reading “Our 10 Favorite Phoenix Coffee Shops for Productivity”

The Best Coworking Spaces in Phoenix

As more freelancers, small business owners, and startups get started in Phoenix, an increasing number of office spaces are now coworking spaces – buildings that house people from a diverse range of backgrounds, each with their own line of work. Below, you’ll find a list of the best coworking spaces in Phoenix.

Photograph of the interior of CO+HOOTS

CO+HOOTS

CO+HOOTS is a coworking space that also provides programming and events focused on helping entrepreneurs create successful businesses. The space is shared between individuals and growing businesses, and the community consists of designers, architects, lawyers, PR agents, software developers, startups, real estate agents, and photographers.

Restaurants Nearby

Coffee Shops Nearby

Continue reading “The Best Coworking Spaces in Phoenix”

Virtual Textures with Oculus

The Oculus Rift, released March 28, 2016
The Oculus Rift, released March 28, 2016

Earlier this year, Oculus released the final consumer version of the Oculus Rift, after much anticipation following their historic Kickstarter campaign and subsequent acquisition by Facebook. However, with Oculus currently losing the VR war to the more expensive HTC Vive, Oculus now seems to be planning to beat other players in the VR space with advanced haptics. Researchers at Oculus are currently working on a project called HapticWave, which uses a circular metal plate placed on top  of a ring of electromagnetic actuators to communicate precise haptic feedback to your hand, when placed on the plate. Continue reading “Virtual Textures with Oculus”

Macaron and the Future of Haptic Editors

Screenshot of the Macaron interface.
A screenshot of the Macaron haptic effects editor.

Earlier this week, we had the pleasure of talking to Oliver Schneider, a graduate student and researcher at the University of British Columbia. Working at the Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group, Oliver spends most of his days developing new software and hardware interfaces that engage our sense of touch. He described various techniques he used to create development tools and interfaces for creating rich tactile effects, including Haptic Jazz – a system for taking improvisational input on a tablet and translating it in real-time into a vibrotactile sensation. Continue reading “Macaron and the Future of Haptic Editors”

Scrappy startup? Turn up the heat in Phoenix.

PHX Built

At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit a few days ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin advised fledgling startups to stay away from Silicon Valley. In the Valley, it’s “hard to make a scrappy initial business that’s self-sustaining, and in other parts of the world you might have an easier time of that.” The best move, it seems, is to start building your business wherever you call home.

All three of us founders are fortunate enough to call Arizona home, and Phoenix is an ideal place for a scrappy, self-sustaining business. Since starting Somatic Labs here in the Valley of the Sun, we’ve found even more reasons to love our hometown. Continue reading “Scrappy startup? Turn up the heat in Phoenix.”

The Future of 4D Home Cinema: A Haptic Effects Track

Diagram of 4D Movie Theater
Diagram of a 4D movie theater from Wikipedia.

With the rise of Netflix and Youtube as dominant platforms for video consumption, fewer people are visiting theaters to watch movies. An increasing amount of multimedia content will be designed for the home theater as these streaming services grow their libraries. Netflix users consume content on whichever screen is available: a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. As the user experience for content consumption shifts towards mobile applications and at-home viewing, the interactive elements of 3D and 4D film previously reserved for movie theaters will transition to technologies easily adopted by households.

Good video is engaging – it tells a compelling story with excellent production value. Since there is increasing competition for viewership between different streaming platforms, devices, and content production studios, there is an increasing demand for differentiated content – content that provides a unique experience to its viewers. Continue reading “The Future of 4D Home Cinema: A Haptic Effects Track”

Temperature Feedback with the Thermoelectric (Peltier) Effect

Photograph of a thermoelectric cooler (Peltier diode)
A Peltier diode available from Sparkfun Electronics.

Vibrotactile pulses (e.g. the buzzing of a cell phone or game controller) can provide users with real-time feedback in a computer interface, but it’s not the only way to transmit information through the sense of touch. Modulating the temperature of the surface of a device can also provide additional information to users.

When a current flows through a junction between two different conductors, heat can be generated or removed from the junction. This phenomenon is called the Peltier effect, named after physicist Jean Charles Athanase Peltier. Different conductive materials that exhibit a Peltier effect will generate or remove different amounts of heat proportional to the amount of current running through the junction – the Peltier coefficient measures how much heat is carried for every unit of charge flowing through the device. Continue reading “Temperature Feedback with the Thermoelectric (Peltier) Effect”

The Haptic Breakdown: What’s Inside Your Smartwatch

In this post, we’ll look at the different ways that some of the most popular wearables implement haptics. Outside of the Apple Watch, most wearables use a simple eccentric rotating mass motor for haptic feedback.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch was first introduced in the fall of 2014 and has since become the world’s best selling wearable device. It was Apple’s first introduction of its “Taptic Engine”, which provides haptic feedback for alerts and notifications. While the design of the Taptic Engine module is proprietary, it is likely a customized linear resonant actuator.

Continue reading “The Haptic Breakdown: What’s Inside Your Smartwatch”