Shortcut to Boston

Currently in Boston in the US since I finally caught an invitation to the Hardware Workshop run by Bolt.vc. Was a great 2 day conference which taught me a lot… They had some great talks, some of which I knew, some of which I had a good idea about and some of which I didn’t know I needed to know and now have a score more things to think about. Hardware just got harder, but I also met a lot of cool people who are doing projects just like us and a few that launched and came through the other side. So it can be done, but I’m under less illusions that it would be easy. The first two hours on the last day were a barrage of stories about how hard it is to do lots of important tasks… almost as if they’re trying to persuade us to give up! ๐Ÿ™‚

I decided to take few days to hang out but the work never stops so I’ve been planning and thinking about the kind of things that you don’t always get time to consider when you’re elbows deep in hardware and software… but now I’m eager to get back. I have a 1.5m x 1.5m CNC router that is 99% finished in our workspace to get fully running and a to-do list that doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

The project was recently accepted onto a hardware accelerator, but after much deliberation we decided to pass. The money would have been nice, but not critical, but the issue was more to do with timing… and shipping prototypes to another country, especially when they’re so huge, isn’t perhaps the best use of a new injection of cash. Asia isn’t going anywhere.

I also had the chance to take a tour of the artisans asylum, which is just amazing. Where we are right now is pretty good but this is on another level… please open one in London someone!

Both the rift and Vive pre-orders remain in limbo, despite 15 minute (hey, the card wouldn’t go through ๐Ÿ™ ) and 3 minute timestamps respectively. Currently considering even reaching out to Palmer personally since the craziness of launch week has died down a little but I suppose they’ll come when they come… although perhaps a private youtube demo link might go a long way in persuading him. Hardware is really hard when you can’t get the other hardware to make your own hardware ๐Ÿ™

My MailChimp Experiment

Normally I write a newsletter and send it out once it’s done right away. I’m hardly an expert, we’ve only sent six.

This time I though we’d try something new. Apparently the best time to send mails is around 10am, I guess more people are at their desk and more likely to open them but this is tricky to time when you have a massive list of mails.

MailChimp does have a “Send with Timewarp” Feature and also “Let MailChimp optimize time for maximum engagement” but these are both paid for options….

Instead what I did was export my list to excel and reorder the list by the recipients time zones. This idea isn’t perfect and about 2/5 of my list didn’t have that as an option, but it was a start. I suspect a lot of these were due to the fact that I imported my list from another program.

I wrote my campaign as a template and then was able to schedule each major time zone list to land at approximately 10am. The unknown timezone addresses I sent at 6pm GMT, which was 10am on the US west coast. Most of the list are Americans and Europeans so this is a reasonable guess.

The last three campaigns have had a 50% open rate over all, so I will report back in a week or so if this has improved. It took about 10 minutes to paste in all the values but if it drives up the engagement it might be worth the extra effort.

Retweet entries

If you search for #feelthree on twitter you can see all the retweets, but here they are for now, with dates. 1740 entries…

Aaron B โ€@Mr_Aaron Nov 6 10
Aditya B. โ€@legorobotdude Dec 3 10
Alex Achorn โ€@SquirlyFear Oct 28 10
Andrey Kim โ€@KimAndrey Nov 28 10
Angel Zamaki โ€@AngelZamaki Dec 1 10
Brilliant โ€@healthbis Dec 5 10
Cian OD โ€@cian4thewin Dec 4 10
David Guez – vrlab โ€@davguez Oct 28 10
davidgee888 โ€@davidgee888 Dec 1 10
dustinwish โ€@dustinwish Dec 2 10
Eric Yang โ€@Eric754 Dec 2 10
Facef Bookl โ€@FBookl Dec 3 10
FantasticBooks โ€@Fantastic_Books Dec 3 10
Jay Kawz โ€@JKawz Nov 30 10
Joerg Mosthaf โ€@Joerg_Mosthaf Dec 2 10
Joschka Rick โ€@JoschkaRick Dec 3 10
Josh Harmon โ€@TheJoshHarmon Dec 3 Virginia, US 10
Kit Fisto โ€@Kit_Fisto_swe Dec 3 10
L โ€@louise001001001 Dec 3 10
Lord Brimstone โ€@BrimstoneofBA Dec 4 10
Lucid Trips โ€@lucidtripsgame Dec 3 10
Mark Kane โ€@my_kane Dec 5 10
matias vivanco vega โ€@matash89 Dec 2 10
Michael โ€@xStealthLord18x Dec 3 10
OpenSpace3D โ€@OpenSpace3D Dec 5 10
Patrick Kay โ€@PATRICKJKAY Dec 5 10
RealityCheckDev โ€@RealityCheckDev Dec 4 10
Relaxis โ€@Relaxis Dec 3 10
Rennan Whittington โ€@Morthion Dec 3 10
Ruthalas_ โ€@Ruthalas_ Nov 28 10
Ryan Maskell โ€@unmaskRYAN Dec 1 10
Simulator Trends โ€@SimulatorTrends Dec 4 10
Spearhead โ€@Spearhead_Int Dec 3 10
SynthesisUniverse โ€@OlivierJT_SU Dec 3 10
Timothy Aspeslagh โ€@_66alien99_ Nov 29 10
Tom Ranson โ€@TomkinsonR Dec 3 10
VirtualRealityGamers โ€@GamersVR Dec 2 10
ะะธะบะธั‚ะฐ ะšะธะพัะต โ€@crotopus Oct 26 10
Amnesys Gaming โ€@AmnesysGaming Dec 1 10
Annette Mary Moody โ€@AskAnnette Nov 27 10
Bobbit da Hobbit โ€@BobbitHobbit Oct 19 10
George Elliott โ€@shuflie Oct 21 10
Henrik Eriksson โ€@arkemiffo Dec 1 10
Jeff Barber โ€@DrawnKiller Dec 2 10
Johan Rydรฉn โ€@Mr_Karmeck Dec 2 10
Kevin G โ€@kevnician Nov 3 10
Martin Godfrey โ€@MartinGD3 Oct 29 10
Reinhard Auer โ€@Aidan_Abacus Nov 17 10
Shade โ€@SinsationalsX Nov 27 10
Simon Champion โ€@GenericRage Nov 27 10
Thomas Neptune โ€@CTNeptune Oct 21 10
Zulkurnain Othman โ€@zulothman Nov 29 10
FitzZZ โ€@TheFitzZZ_YT Dec 3 50
George Elliott โ€@shuflie Nov 27 50
John Virgo โ€@Kerrrash Nov 27 50
Marco Melloni โ€@SirMehr Nov 27 50
Okona โ€@Okona Nov 28 50
Portal VR โ€@IzhVR Nov 27 50
Sascha Otto โ€@Kanie1978 Nov 27 50
turningtechy โ€@turningtechy Dec 3 50
้‡Ž็”Ÿใฎ็”ท โ€@yasei_no_otoko Nov 28 50
Anvil Aerospace โ€@AnvilAerospace Nov 15 50
Beck Andrรกs โ€@AndrasBeck Nov 15 50
Charles Cordova โ€@VR_kinects2_AR Nov 20 50
Duncan Cameron โ€@thedc950 Nov 27 50
Jason โ€@Carandiru Nov 15 50
lrosXXX โ€@lrosXXX Nov 16 50
Marvin Bentley II โ€@truevox Nov 27 50
MK โ€@MK84 Nov 27 50
n!Cola โ€@n1kolax Nov 16 50
n!Cola โ€@n1kolax Nov 28 50
Paul Pob โ€@lucyferror Nov 15 50
Simon Champion โ€@GenericRage Nov 16 50
Syrius de Goratrix โ€@SyriusGoratrix Nov 15 50
Taha Ozdemir โ€@tahaozdemir Nov 15 50
Tomas Mariancik โ€@Frooxius Nov 15 50

Materials and manufacturing considerations.

So how does one make a huge half sphere cheaply?

Plexiglass? Sounds like a tricky proposition. Is it even strong enough?

Fibreglass? Carbon fibre? maybe for a prototype but them mass producing them?

The more I thought about it, the more I realised it couldn’t be made in one piece anyway.ย  How much would a 1.3m x 1.3m x 1m parcel cost to the US or Japan? It would have to be assembled, which means I had to think about base elements first. i.e. breaking the sphere apart.

Geodesic domes seemed a good possibility and plunk has some great info on building them. If I could make a dome from triangles with a curved exterior it would be easy right?

Wrong. The more complicated the dome the more types of triangles are need. The 5/8 dome above wasn’t just 1 triangle, but 5.

If I wanted to make something the few parts the better.

 

Considering the problem.

So I knew that in order to come up with something successful it would need to achieve a few goals.

Affordability: it needed to use cheap components, not only for prototyping it but so it wouldn’t cost a fortune.

Small to ship : If I wanted to send it around the world it would have to fit in a fairly small box while unassembled.

Light : Plastic, fibre glass or aluminium were the best options.

Attractive : If I could disguise it so people didn’t immediately recognise it then it would be more likely to be snuck in under the nose of ‘anti-tech’ wives :p

Now since I only wanted to make this for use with the Oculus rift it cut down on a lot of the weight and bulk. We no longer need to lift a bunch of screens and panels, just the user and his controls.

Something like the BlueTiger “Full Motion” platform sells for $8-14k, and is only a simple 2 degree of freedom platform. Perhaps they sell 100 units a year, and only in the US since shipping such a massive device would cost another $600.

Clearly there would be a market for a decent alternative for under $1500, and a much larger audience.