by Dot Cannon
We had just received a map, highlighting twelve venues. Camera in hand, we were ready to explore as many as possible. Our first destination: Hyperloop One.
This startup was offering a limited-space tour–with a look inside the technology that may well change the future of transportation.
Make it in L.A., a region-wide initiative to connect and celebrate the nation’s largest community of makers and manufacturers, was hosting its inaugural Maker Walk on National Manufacturing Day. Entrepreneurs, creatives, manufacturers and a few fellow journalists were on the scene. And we were about to enjoy an afternoon of self-guided tours, workshops and demos.
We can tell you that we went to Hyperloop One first, spent about twenty minutes touring the facility–and they absolutely wowed us.
Unfortunately, due to the proprietary nature of what we saw and heard, that’s all we can say, for now.
But, you can bet we’ll ask them for an interview and share whatever they’d like to tell us, on the record!
Our next stop was Oblong Industries. Their specialty: collaborative computing in spatial operating environments.
Director of Solutions Brandon Harvey showed us this brain-data display, based on an MRI scan. Here, three computer drives control multiple screens.
Multiple screens allowed giant enlargements of different regions in the image. A user can also show “slices” of the data. Brandon said the company created this project, from data from Berkeley Labs, in 2014. It’s called, simply, “Brain”.
Brandon told us Oblong Industries does two major kinds of projects, with spatial computing. “(We create tools) to help someone do their job better. Or, (we create) an experience or environment to help someone tell a story,” he explained.
At the next display, we met Oblong Industries Director of Interaction Design Pete Hawkes. Pete explained that Oblong Industries had created its core platform, called G-speak, from scratch in 2006. And, he said, G-speak does three things:
- Enables users to see inherently spatial screens on multiple surfaces: tables, walls or even the floor!
- Provides a user interface for multiple machines, with multiple systems, to work together;
- And, permits multiple users to work on similar systems at the same time.
Pete said five computers, using G-speak, were controlling this display, of forty-five screens!
Make it in L.A. had warned, prior to the Maker Walk, that seeing everything would be impossible. They were right!
But with only so many hours in the day, we opted for the Arts District Co-Op‘s display of eclectic lifestyle products. The local artists and artisans served up an inviting mix of apparel, jewelry and art, with murals tucked into unexpected places.
Our final stop of the day, before we ran out of time, was the Advanced Prototyping Center, at La Kretz Innovation Campus, for a quick tour.
Inside, we met Autodesk Technical Evangelist Curtis Chan, who shared information about Fusion 360 as he talked the group through the steps of designing and prototyping. (Autodesk has a partnership with Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.)
“What you’re going to see today, is how we make this little trinket, right here,” he told the group, holding up a braided keychain. He then talked everyone through the CAD (computer-assisted design) process, using Fusion 360.
“We started with just a sketch, then we (gave) it an extrusion…and we actually did a 3D print of it, too,” Curtis said. “We actually designed it in Fusion, (then) threw it into a product called Netfabb, which says, ‘hey, based on the stress I’m putting on this product, give me a better design’. So it came out with this sassy-looking thing.”
Curtis explained that his background was in mechanical engineering. He had taught 3D design at the college level, in San Diego, using SOLIDWORKS.
“But today I want to talk to you about Fusion 360,” he said. “It is our kind of flagship product.”
Fusion 360, he continued, was a reinvention–combining ten of Autodesk’s previous products. The goals: effectiveness and affordability.
“So if you’re a student, every single one of our products are free,” Curtis explained. “We own over 250 products. And then if you are an entrepreneur or a member here (at LACI) it’s free for you, too.”
Time was running, and we were sorry! There was just enough time to stop by and see this Epilog Fusion laser cutter in action.
The laser-cutter created this ring in a matter of minutes!
“It’s 4 o’clock,” someone said, as we headed down the hall. The first-ever Maker Walk L.A. had ended, and a VIP reception was about to begin.
We had to be on our way. But congratulations, Make It in L.A., on a great first event that seemed to zoom by at the speed of light! We hope to see quite a few more Maker Walks in the future.