Cool Idea! Award Winner Launches New PocketLab Devices

For startup companies, a key measure of success is securing funding. Garnering a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, for instance, and $114,000 in Kickstarter funds, are awfully nice merit badges. Plus, the funding itself is crucial, of course, in bringing a company’s product to market.

The original PocketLab platform and device, pictured, has found early success, and two new devices are coming soon: PocketLab Voyager and PocketLab Weather.

Indeed, those funds last year helped California-based startup Myriad Sensors, Inc., launch the PocketLab platform and device, which has found early success, enough so to move forward with the launch of two new PocketLab devices and a second Kickstarter campaign. More on those in a second.

Myriad Sensors was also a 2015 recipient of the Cool Idea! Award from Proto Labs, which provided prototyping and low-volume production services to the company for the initial PocketLab device.

Clifton Roozeboom, PocketLab inventor, and founder and CEO of Myriad Sensors, points to the Cool Idea! Award as a catalyst to the initial launch and success of PocketLab, which is now used by tens of thousands in 45 countries, who are tapping PocketLab for maker projects and science experiments.

The handheld device uses a wireless sensor and software platform to measure a number of different data fields that are then transmitted back to a computer or smartphone for analysis. It is relatively inexpensive (around $100) and is especially well-suited for students, teachers, and professors working on science projects in need of solid analytical data. Continue reading

Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity on Display at SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive wraps up in Austin, Texas today and Proto Labs was proud to make our debut at the notoriously cool event — both as an exhibitor and attendee. Fittingly, we brought our Cool Idea! Award gallery to SX Create, a come one, come all event within the Interactive Festival that showcased innovative technologies and products that are shaping our future. Visitors to our space could check out a selection of previous Cool Idea! Award recipients to see how the inventive ideas went from concepts to actual products with a manufacturing hand from Proto Labs.

Our booth at SX Create showcased past Cool Idea! Award winners.

One of the many things SXSW is known for is its comprehensive music and film schedule where some tough decisions need to be made — the interactive counterpart is no different. By the time I finished plotting out my schedule, two hours had passed. Here are some session highlights: Continue reading

Kinetic Charger for Smartphones Brings New Meaning to Mobile

AMPY is an innovative kinetic charger that captures a person’s movement and converts it to charge for their mobile device. Tejas Shastry, Mike Geier and Alex Smith began developing the device in 2013 as students in an entrepreneurial class at Northwestern. They worked through dozens of prototype iterations involving 3D printed parts while fine-tuning its patent-pending, proprietary linear inductor. The user’s motion drives a magnet and coil system that generates electricity, which goes into a lithium ion battery for storage. Plug an iPhone, Android phone or other wearable device into AMPY’s USB port to begin charging.

The team at AMPY entered and won Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award, a service grant that will be used towards internal thermoplastic bobbins in the device. AMPY is now pilot testing with consumers while accepting online preorders at getampy.com for market-ready devices that are slated to ship in July 2015. Read our full case study on the development of AMPY.

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. Continue reading

Cool Idea! Award: Meet the judges

Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award kicked off its fourth year with two major additions to the program. First, we’ve assembled an eclectic mix of industry experts from the design, engineering and manufacturing worlds that will join the judge panel, which, to date, has consisted solely of Larry Lukis, Proto Labs’ founder and Chairman of the Board. The additional judges will bring diverse expertise from their particular area of experience. Second, Proto Labs will host its inaugural Cool Idea! Award Gallery Event in New York City on Thursday, Jan. 30. The event honors a selection of the products that have received the support of the award.

So, before the gallery doors open in New York, let us introduce you to our esteemed panel of judges. Continue reading