Innovation On Display: Proto Labs hosts Cool Idea! Award gallery event in NYC

It was an all-white space. I mean, ALL white. Walls. Floors. Ceiling. Proto Labs is headquartered in Minnesota, and even our winters don’t hold a snowflake to this place. So where and what is this Narnia I’m talking about? Located in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood, Openhouse is a storefront Proto Labs rented to host our inaugural Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award gallery event.

2014 began the fourth year of the award program, which provides those with an innovative product idea an aggregate of $250,000 in Proto Labs prototyping and short-run production services. We sought to introduce a way for individuals to view and interact with a selection of the 17 products that have, to date, received a Cool Idea! Award, and to celebrate ingenuity and innovative design.

Throughout the day of the event, January 30, what started as a blank canvas began to come alive with the addition of nine of the products that received the support of the award on their journey to market. Artwork was hung to detail the parts and their material provided to each recipient, video began to roll that showed the products in action, the beats started to play, and the food and bar were stocked.

However, even with everything in place, pioneering and successful hardware products on display, the gallery did not fully come alive until the guests began to arrive for the evening event (via the Cool Idea! Award-orange carpet).

The conversations that occurred among the attendees, made up of four of our Cool Idea! Award judges (Brooks Atwood, Ray Hu, David Lang and Scott N. Miller), engineers, industrial designers, analysts, students, and a number of individuals hoping to join the ranks of those who have received a Cool Idea! Award are what made the gallery experience truly valuable. The discussions that the products on display ignited about crowdfunding, connected devices, speed to market, collaboration, design, robotics, and a slew of related topics pertaining to hardware and product development were the meat to the space’s bone.

So, if you weren’t able to join us in NYC on January 30 (and even if you were), I invite you to visit our virtual gallery (you can view photos from the event via the link as well) and begin your own conversations with others in the space. Use #plcoolidea on Twitter to create, join in and follow conversations (you can follow the Cool Idea! Award at @ProtoLabsAward). How do these products inspire you? What do you think is the next big trend in the hardware space? What are some of the roadblocks you’re up against in bringing products into the market?

The knowledge shared and ideas sparked in these conversations are what powers the next generation of great products (and perhaps future Cool Idea! Award recipients).

The first application period of 2014 ends February 28. Do you have the next ground-breaking new product idea? Apply to the award here.

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