Cool Ideas for the Gift Giving Season

THE SHORT LIST

Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season? These past Cool Idea! Award recipients might fit the bill.

1. Need a gift for the techie? Garageio is garage door opener built for the 21st century. It connects to your smartphone and allows you to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world. And, you don’t need to replace your existing opener, so installation is simple. Not only is it a convenient gadget but it also provides a sense of relief by sending real-time alerts if your garage door is left open. Garageio is even compatible with Amazon’s home automation platform, Echo. Learn more about Garageio.

2. To the untrained eye, Everpurse might look like your typical handbag, but take a closer look and you’ll find an integrated smartphone charging system. You simply place your phone into the purse’s charging dock and it will automatically start recharging—no wires required. When you’re at home, you can charge the bag’s battery by placing it on top of the inductive charging mat. Learn more about Everpurse.

3. SOLOSHOT is like having your own personal cameraman. It’s a virtual tracking system that works with most cameras and is able to track an object as far as 2,000 feet away. The video subject simply wears or mounts a tag on themselves and the camera’s base station automatically follows the user. It’s perfect for the outdoor enthusiast looking for quality video footage of themselves while they rock climb, surf, or snowboard. Learn more about SOLOSHOT.

Visit the Cool Idea! Award website to find more award recipients–and potential gift ideas.

Past 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