Over the last eight years, Sphero has made a bunch of different robots. We’ve been discussing the “every-programmer” robot for a while, which is both hardware and software hackable. Watching RVR come together from the inside over the past year has been pretty awesome.
If you are into robots, programming, STEM, or the future, go visit Kickstarter and pre-order RVR today.
The holographic display of the future is here and you can have one on your desk for under $600.
Ever since I saw Princess Leia appealing to Obi Wan that he was her only hope when I was 11, I’ve wanted a holographic display. Movies like Minority Report and Back to the Future II (do you remember the shark hologram that ate Marty?) have consumed thousands of people’s lives over the past few decades. But until now, no one has been able to make a scalable device that would let groups of people, unaided by a VR or AR headset, see and touch a living and moving 3D world.
That’s changing today with the launch of the Looking Glass, a new type of interface that achieves that dream of the hologram we’ve been promised for so long. The Looking Glass is technically a lightfield and volumetric display hybrid, but that’s pretty nerdy-sounding. I like to just call it a holographic display.
It’s a technology at the Apple II stage, designed for the creators and hackers of the world — specifically 3D creators in this case. If you’ve ever played with a MakerBot or Form 2, have a Structure sensor in your backpack, know what volumetric video is, or have 3D creation programs like Maya, Unity, or Blender on your computer, then you should get a Looking Glass. You can holographically preview 3D prints before you print them, experiment with volumetric video recording and playback, or create entirely new and weird applications in Unity that can live inside of the Looking Glass. And when I say weird I mean it — the founders Shawn and Alex put a 3D scan of me inside and gave me some new dance moves.
Check out this video on their Kickstarter page. I’ve seen this in person and what is shown in the video is real. There aren’t any camera tricks going on – it really looks that good (actually a little better) in real life. The Looking Glass is indistinguishable from magic the way the best of technology strives to be.
I don’t know of many people who genuinely want the dystopian future of everyone in VR all day long. Ok, I do know a few. But while VR may play a role, I think most people don’t want this 1984 vision of the future, where everyone is geared up 16 hours a day.
The team behind the Looking Glass is fighting against that all-headset future with this new class of technology. Join us!
My friends at Harmonix are running a Kickstarter campaign to bring back Amplitude, one of their classic games. It was originally done in the early 2000’s for the Sony PS2. This campaign will bring it up to date for the Sony PS3 and PS4.
It was all started by an online post from someone named DumpLord420. Watch the Kickstarter video to hear the backstory and see what they are doing. And, if you are a video game, or Harmonix, fan boy (or fan girl), some Harmonix love is just a few Kickstarter clicks away.
One of the companies I’m an investor in, Modular Robotics, just launched a Kickstarter campaign around its new product MOSS. It’s amazing.
Definitely a “show not tell” so I encourage you to watch the five minute video and then back the MOSS Kickstarter campaign if you, your kids, or your loved ones dig building things.
Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Nicholas Napp. We first met five years ago and while I’ve never invested in anything he’s done, I’ve tried to be helpful along the way. Nick is currently running a company called MoveableCode and has a great Kickstarter campaign going for his latest product Incantor (Magic Made Real). Go check out the campaign and support him if you are interested. In the mean time, enjoy his story about Never Giving Up and Never Surrendering. And yes, I recently “invested” in Nick via Kickstarter at the $250 level – I now am excitedly waiting for my Incantor Nobilis for 2.
First – an overview on what I’m working on now
I founded MoveableCode back in 2009, initially to do some mobile Augmented Reality research on a National Science Foundation SBIR grant. We quickly learned that we could make cool things but no money and pivoted. Two years later, we are all about innovative mobile entertainment. We have a grand vision to build a kickass company and Incantor is a big part of that.
Post pivot, I’ve been lucky enough to lure in two good friends, Kevin Mowrer and Trivikram Prasad. Kevin used to run all of R&D for Hasbro and founded their entertainment division. He used to be a client of mine. Triv was an engineer at a company I worked for when I first came to the US as a product manager. He went on to lead teams for Intel and Intuit and is now based in Bangalore, India. I’ve known both of them for 15+ years and we immediately clicked as a team. We’ve raised a modest amount of money, just enough to get some proof points and are now getting in to high gear.
Incantor is our vision of what happens when addictive gameplay is combined with immersive, community-driven fantasy. It is built on a simple premise: Magic Made Real. The game unites people, places and things and is played with your smartphone, a magic wand and your friends. The magic wand is a sophisticated bluetooth device and the game is played as a fantasy LARP in the real world.
We made the decision to go the Kickstarter route because we wanted to connect with fans. Community is vitally important to the game and we want to embrace that from day one. There’s nothing quite like it out there… and there are some really cool parts we’re not talking about yet. This is going to be a fun ride… “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Rewind to five years ago
Brad was my first VC man-crush. About five years and a couple of startups ago, I mercilessly tracked him down and he was good enough to meet and hear the pitch for the startup I was with at the time.
To say we were excited was an understatement. This was the guy that we wanted to meet. If he heard our pitch, the infatuation would be instant and we would walk away with a nice big check. We were going to score!
Sadly, I can say with some confidence that it was the worst pitch I have ever given. Everything that could go wrong did. We crashed and burned as badly as possible and Brad and his colleagues were as gracious as they could be. I even made the “oh no you didn’t” mistake of mis-dialing after the meeting and accidentally calling Brad as he went to the airport.
But as an entrepreneur, you move forward by getting up after you fall down. That startup died, but I stayed in contact with Brad and we’ve chatted many times since then.
MoveableCode is my latest startup and it’s been getting some great early traction. He’s now a backer of our Kickstarter project and I couldn’t be more pleased.
As the saying goes… Never give up, never surrender
After a long really fun day yesterday at TechStars and StartLabs I wandered over to 34-101 to be on a panel for Joost Bonsen and Joe Hadzima‘s IAP class 15.S21: The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans. It’s not really a class about business plans rather a class about starting a business and has been regularly modernized by Joost and Joe. On the panel were the two founders of Super Mechanical (creators of Twine) which is an awesome project that used Kickstarter for its initial financing (and that I’m an excited supporter / customer of.) I had a fun day and wish I had found more IAP courses to help teach and participate in this trip.
After the course finished at 9:30, Joost and I wandered over to the Muddy Charles for a beer. When I crawled into bed at 12:30 my head was full of a ton of awesome ideas that came out of our rambling three hour discussion. I’ve been friends with Joost since the early 1990’s when we first met around the MIT 10K competition and have been a huge fan of his ever since.
Among other things we talked about the startup ecosystem in and around MIT and the evolution of Boston as a region. The comments in my post from yesterday titled I’m in Cambridge, Not Boston were great and stimulated additional thinking on this topic, as did Joost’s experience here over the past 20 years. Joost has incredible knowledge and history of the region and of MIT, which occasionally appears in posts like How Kendall Square Became Hip: MIT Pioneered University-Linked Business Parks but is really apparent when you spend extended time with him talking about MIT, how it evolved, what it is today, who has been involved along the way, and the entrepreneurial community that has evolved around it.
About mid-way through the conversation Joost dropped two phrases on me that blew my mind. The first was “Creative Construction.” As we were talking about startup communities and the new book I’m working on, Joost said “How about a play on words on Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” and call your theory about startup communities “creative construction” instead. After I put the exploded pieces of my brain back together and said “that is exactly fucking right” he went on. “Think of entrepreneurship as a tool of mass construction.”
The play on words is just delicious. And right on – we are talking about an awesome positive force in the world and should be using language that represents that. At the core of our conversation was the notion that an entrepreneurial region like Boston is actually a collection of 100,000 person “entrepreneurial neighborhoods” (that’s what Kendall Square is, as distinct from the Fort Point Channel area, or the Leather District, or what’s going on in Davis Square, or …). And the idea that creative construction drives this – and the neighborhoods are part of a broader entrepreneurial community (in the region) is a construct that resonates with me.
I’m off to HubSpot to give a talk, a swing through Venture Cafe at CIC, and then back to StartLabs for the rest of the day. My three weeks in Boston (well – Cambridge) with a side trip to New York is coming to an end. It’s been amazing, enlightening, educational, productive, and a lot of fun.