Innovation Starts with Adventure

Soundbike

Nothing is every “invented” from the chair in a cubicle. Ideas come from exploration and a culmination of unique insights. Jack Dorsey came up with the concepts of Twitter through the culmination of thoughts gathered around transportation communication. At an early age, he was fascinated with trains and maps. He took note of the way people talked on CB radios. They spoke in bursts and they were always talking about what they were doing and where they were going. Dorsey changed the world by making communication through 140 characters a norm. It’s helped revolutionaries get their message out. It’s also been the pitfall of several celebrities and politicians that got a little too tweet happy… and this gives us entertainment.

The Boombot was conceived on a bike commute and ultimately unleashed to the world for use in a number of activities. This week’s mailer is all about what we’re doing to enhance the future of your next adventure. This is the innovation edition.

 The R&D of Today

This week we got our first pilot run of handlebar mounts. We kept hitting the refresh button on our Fedex tracker. We were HOPING that we’d be really close to having a dialed finished product. Unfortunately, the mounts arrived and we were only 11% away from perfection. Last time we added a vibration dampening to our mount, but we found that the rubber dampener just didn’t sit snug in the unit. It also wasn’t quite thick enough. The teeth that hold the mount closed were also not thickened to our specifications.

Bike Speaker

The photo above shows a beefed up version we cut by hand with thicker rubber. Clearly, it’s cut by hand because it looks awful. The reality with prototyping is that getting it to work well is far more important than making it look sexy. We also found that the unit was clicking a bit during vibration from the top. This was caused by the spring on the clip flopping the unit up and down. We realized we needed to add a second rubber dampener. This mount now has THREE rubber dampening areas: around the bars, inside the mount and on top. We took this newly hacked model for a ride and it rode like a champion. Curb, speedbump, cliff, drop, whatever you threw at this thing, the Boombot not only stayed in place, it didn’t even so much as rattle. We got back to the lab and quickly spec’d out our revisions and sent them back to the factory. We’re still shooting for October delivery.

THE R&D OF TOMORROW

This week, it occurred to us that almost everyone in the portable speaker market has been using a compromised design in speaker mounting. Most smaller portable speakers are glued into place which makes them a little less resilient to impact. We also found that the inconsistent mounting technique also limits speakers from reaching their full acoustic potential.

Speaker Technology

We came up with a design that would change the way our speakers are mounted in the future using a concentric ring that screws the speakers into place and seals them with significantly more pressure than ever. The design was part inspired by disassembling larger speakers to see how higher power devices were maintaining structural integrity. Much can be learned from tinkering.

FEATURE PHOTOS

Every time our fans post on Swagonomics, we see our product used in different ways. Our Swagonomics feed isn’t just another way to hook up our most hardcore fans. This is a place where we can compile data about our product used. We then hit the drawing boards to develop our gear to be even more optimized for the lifestyle of our community. This week’s most innovative feature photos from left to right, top to bottom include: Peterbakeris, Whatrick, Estiloskateboards, Fleofficiel, indigo_nico

Best Portable Speaker

OUTRO

As you can see, innovation is a very fulfilling and fun. It’s even more fun to do as a team. We are building a ton of stuff for 2014 and we’d like you to start thinking about what you want to seen in the next generation of Boombots. Hit us up on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you want. You’re not going to know unless you get out there and push our gear to the limits. So get after it!

Group creates invisibility cloak

Major step forward for developing technology

Invisibility cloak

Love stuff like this – A team of researchers out of Duke University have developed a garment that makes it possible to conceal a small object and have it be entirely invisible to everyone around it.

The way in which they were able to complete this sorcery is by using a row-by-row design of fiberglass etched with copper and two-foot square copper strips. They form a diamond shape, leaving the center empty. Doing this, the group found, allows the device to bend light around an object so that it looks invisible to microwaves and the naked eye.

Duke invisibility cloak
^Duke student Nathan Landy holding technology he worked on that could one day lead to full invisibility cloak^

This development is a big step forward in the invisible cloak technology field — yes, such a field does exist. The last major breakthrough came in 2006 with a prototype that, due to issues with the fabrication process, continued to reflect light around the edges of the concealed object, which allowed it to still be partially visible.

Now, before we begin thinking of creepy ways to use this garment, there are some drawbacks with where the technology stands today. For one, it’s only able to conceal objects smaller than one of our portable speakers — so small, in fact, that they’re not able to be seen by the naked eye in the first place. What’s more, their success with the cloak has only been in wavelengths longer than what the eye can see; that is, wavelengths like radio, microwave, and infrared. Additionally, their design — as it stands today — can only work when facing one direction, meaning that if you were to look at it from the side, you’d be able to see it.

But let’s not poo-poo their idea completely here — this is impressive stuff and a step in the right direction. The team plans to next work on a cloak capable of creating a fully three-dimensional illusion.

Keyboard made using beer cans

Microbrewery comes up with creative way to show off brand

Staropramen beer can keyboard

What we got here is probably the second best thing someone can do with 40 beer cans.

Car made out of beer cans

^This would OBVIOUSLY be the first best thing.^

Staropramen, a Prague-based microbrewery, sponsored the recent 2012 Webstock Conference, the largest blogging and social media conference in Romania (yes, there is such an event). To get people talking about it — and blogging about it on the world’s best and most durable portable speaker’s blog site — the brew crew came up with an ingenious way of getting people to sign up for their spam, er, I mean, email campaigns: use a beer can-based keyboard.

Robofun Create beer can keyboard

The device was created with Romanian-based Robofun Create: 40 cans were assembled in the shape of keyboard and attached to a large wall-mounted plasma screen. When passerby’s pressed the cans, they were able to enter their email addresses for a giveaway trip to Prague.

A bit more specifically, the way it worked is the beer cans were connected to an Arduino touch capacitive controller (same as those inside everyone’s smartphone touchscreens) and linked to the display via a Raspberry Pi board. If someone were so inclined, they could also attach the beer cans keyboard to their laptop or computer monitor, though it might take up a bit too much room.

Beer can keyboard

As per Robofun Create, all attendees who tried the keyboard out were successful in entering the contest (some complained it was a bit slow, those killjoys). No word yet on how they disposed of the cans at the end of the show, though there were a couple of mentions on the Webstock forums that the hosts were nursing a wicked hangover.

Here’s a video that the group put together of the thing in action: