Published on May 30th, 2014 | by Mathilde Berchon0
[Solid Conference] The 3 Best Startups, At The Intersection Of Hardware And Software
Hardware companies are not your classic product companies anymore. They are evolving towards innovative business models, combining software and communities.
A new generation of companies, in-between hardware and software only companies is taking shape. These companies are in the field of Quantified Self, home automation, prosthetics, wearables or prototyping tools.
Besides well known wild robots Boston Dynamics or house 3D scanner Matterport, three young companies drove my attention a few days ago at Solid, the new conference organized by O’Reilly to tackle this changing landscape.
Robot-hero Rodney Brooks, who founded iRobot (maker of the Roomba and Scumba cleaning robots), is back with a new company called Rethink Robotics. Based on his observations on interactions between humans and machines, Rod found out that robots need to inspired friendliness in order for us to be fully working along and with them.
With his team, he created Baxter, a robot able to smartly adapt to situations while looking like a buddy. Designed as a manufacturing robot, it goes way beyond traditional robots currently in use on production lines. Baxter can move, grip, interact in many ways, grabbing faster when needed, slowing down or moving in other ways depending on context.
Taktia is a surprising product that will give you a good glimpse of what the future of tools looks like. It’s a position-correcting machine for digital fabrication tools.
It lets users cut through wood while digitally guiding him for a perfect result. It takes your 2D vectorized model and create virtual guides that the machine will follow while you’re holding it.
When you deviates from your way, Taktia tells you in real-time by showing you on the screen. Follow the screen instead of focusing on the wood. Even at your first try, it’s like you have been a wood worker your whole life.
The video below speaks for itself:
I’ve been following the team of Nervous System for a while now and they keep surprising me. Nervous Systems is a duo of designers creating custom 3D printed designs.
They develop software to hardware online solutions that let users play online with shapes and order 3D printed creations that are made on-demand in a variety of materials. Their work is inspired by nature.
Shapes are complex and include moving parts that are 3D printed in one piece. They take advantage of the specificities of 3D printing to make on-demand custom and complex wearable pieces.
We are quickly coming to a world where hardware and software are more and more tightly integrated together. The cost and complexity barreer to entering the hardware space have never been so low, making easier than ever now to embed electronics in almost everything. Now is the time!