All posts by Denise Wilton

Sharing your Little Printer

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that we recently announced a partnership with Glacéau vitaminwater, who have been distributing Little Printers to some very lucky creatives and agencies across the UK.

It’s been great to follow along via Twitter and Instagram as Printers arrive and begin printing their first messages and publications.

With so many printers popping up in shared spaces, now seems as good a time as ever to highlight two ways in which Little Printer is made for sharing.

1) You can share it like you’d share your phone number

When you get a new phone, you need to tell people how to reach it. It’s the same with Little Printer. Share the details with people you like, and they can message you using Remote on their own smartphones.

It’s very simple:
• Preferences > Friends allowed to message this Little Printer > Add friend
• Enter your friend’s email address
• We send them a quick email explaining what to do next

And that’s it.

Don’t forget, if your printer is in the front room and you have small children, letting your sweary drinking-buddy message your Little Printer might not be ideal. (That’s why we let you choose who to share it with!)

2) You can share it like you share your home phone with flatmates, or office phone with colleagues

By this we mean that you can give access to your Little Printer so that other people can use it in the same way you do. They’ll be able to subscribe to content they like, and invite friends to message them.

This is also easy:
• Preferences > Sharing your Printer > Make a new sharecode
• Enter the email address of the person you’d like to share it
• We’ll send them an email with the code and details of what to do next.

Little Printer is very sociable and it’s fun to share.

Oh – and one last thing. Don’t forget you can message your own Little Printer too, and now we’ve got live previews!

Little Printer Hack Day

Several months ago we decided it was time to pick a date to host a Hack Day for Little Printer.

We’d been kicking around the Hack Day idea since about December and for me personally it was something that made a lot of sense: James and I started building the Publications API and developer tools in January, slowly growing it to fulfil our needs. As with all projects that grow with you, most of the choices we made were well reasoned and borne out of discussion, but some were snap choices that we thought were of little consequence at the time. All of our systems made sense to us, but when they’re introduced to a new person, or twenty-five new people, how do those decisions hold up? Saturday was our test for that.

Berg hackday

At 10am on Saturday morning twenty-five friends came along to have a first run at using our API. They also let us practice hosting a Hack Day. If you came along, thank you so much, your input was invaluable and I’m already excited about getting together with Nick and James to work out what’s next for the API, based on your feedback.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be planning another Hack Day once the dust has settled from this one. We have plenty of things to tighten up with our developer tools before unleashing them for a wider audience. If you’re interested in attending, we’ll be letting people know well ahead of time – and this time it’ll be open to a wider audience.

informal

The day was informal (as you can see in the above shot, by Dan Williams), starting with some basic housekeeping messages from Simon. I then gave a quick and fraught run down of the developer tools, how to get set up with a printer and what to do if you got stuck.

Demos came at the end of the day and these were a lot like a larger version of the Friday Demos we have at BERG every week. Everyone grabs a beer and there’s a lot of clapping. The output from everyone was outstanding! Here’s a quick rundown of the things people made…

Some stats: At the end of the day we had 73 publications registered on the system and 443 deliveries had been made to our 10 Little Printers.

Richard Pope made Calendar Forecast, a publication that summarises your calendar to-do symbols. Like a weather forecast, but for Google Calendar.

Matt Biddulph made Little Twitter Trends, a publication of interesting things concerning the people you follow on twitter and what’s happening in their world.

James Stewart, James Weiner and Chris Heathcote made three things, firstly, localondon, a publication of things going on in London. Secondly, Seasons Eatings, a publication based on some work James W had done before based on seasonal food. And finally, Southbank Today a publication of information about events on the Southbank today.

paper pet

Ben Firshman and Devin Hunt made Paper Pets, a charming publication containing instructions to make origami animals (one shown above!).

Adrian McEwen made Printernet Fridge, an actual Arduino hack! Three buttons that sit on the side of the fridge; one to press when the milk was out, one for orange juice and one for cheese. Little Printer then gives you a reminder whenever these things have been requested.

Chris Adams made Little Printnik, which is a publication to help you to learn and use new words (often quite esoteric), using the Wordnik API.

Tom Armitage went back to his own “Hello World” of connected things, creating Tower Bridge, a written and visual representation of the Bridge’s activities for the day, with reference shots of the ships that are passing.

Nick O’leary and Kass Schmitt made ASCII Meterogram using data from the Norwegian Meterological Institute and NRK.

Tom Taylor made Low Flying Rocks to highlight when meteors are flying close to the earth, and giving some vital statistics about them.

Tom Insam, Natalie Downe and Simon Willison (aka TEAM LANYRD) made a publication for Lanyrd. It shows information about the conference you are attending today, including a Stamen map tile for the location and which of your twitter contacts is also attending. Over on the Lanyrd blog you can see a quick write up of their hack.

James Wheare made Exquisite Paper, a daily random collection tweets collated on Exquisite Tweets. I love the serendipity of this one, a random conversation that somebody decided was interesting enough to save from anywhere in the world every morning. Yes please.

Natalia Buckley and Linda Savik made Cat Grindr, the exceptionally named publication that prints out photos of cats that people have shared near you, meaning you can track them down and pet them. A lot of the photos returned by Cat Grindr were not technically cats, but that made it even more entertaining.

Mark Hurrell and Louise Downe used Your Sky to generate printouts with the idea that you could use it to project the night sky onto your wall by shining a light through the paper. I’m not sure the final projector actually worked, but they made a valliant effort — and the only publication to involve the BERG soldering iron!
(edit: Louise also wrote an excellent post about the day, which you can check out on her blog)

Roo Reynolds made Today’s Google Calendar Events. A list of today’s events printed every morning, to curb that constant phone-checking.

Matt Webb blew the cobwebs out of his coding brain and made a publication for Conway’s Game of Life. Give it a seed and each day you get the next iteration of the generated game in ASCII.

And last but not least, Dan Williams made Little Emma, a publication sharing the location of the world’s largest container ship each day. Dan also posted a great write up of the day, with his own thoughts, and a video of Little Emma as it prints.

Well done and thank you to everybody who demoed, I’ve kept samples of all the publications made and am going to display them on a pin board on the studio like a proud mother.

–AB

A postcard from Milan

This week it’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy — both the world’s largest furniture show, and a massive city-wide design fair.

I went along with Little Printer to demo and present at the Triennale Design Museum, as part of an event curated by Vodafone and Italy.

It was a fun and hectic day trip! LP travels in a silver travel case practically chained to my wrist. We were out of the door in London at 4.50am, and in the museum in Milan at 11am. Then leaving again for the airport at 3pm!

This photo (by calao) is me presenting:

Matt W presenting

I spoke about Little Printer and its publications – what makes a good publication, mainly – and did a live demo of a delivery and direct messaging.

It was great fun — thanks to Zero for organising. The Lytro light field camera folks were also there. Awesome to see their product.

This will probably be LP’s last trip abroad… in this form. For demos I’m still using the prototype you saw in the film way back in 2011. All the other prototypes are being used in development. But now we’re assembling the first models with parts from the Little Printer production line, and soon I’ll be toting around one of those for demos instead.

Bright Spark

Before I skip to the science, an update on timings for Little Printer.

For those of you who’ve asked for dates and details, we can now say that the beta product will launch in the first half of this year. We know email inboxes are busy places, and so if you’ve signed up to receive news via the mailing list, please don’t think our silence means you’ve been forgotten. We’ll mail you just as soon as we have news you can act on—like the dates of the launch itself and the chance to pre-order.

The latest news is that tooling for production is well underway. Below is an action shot of electrical discharge machining (EDM) also known as sparking.

EDM, or sparking

EDM is used to make some of the more detailed or complicated shapes for injection moulds, where mechanical machining techniques would be ineffective. In this instance, the mould will be used to form some of the internal components for Little Printer.

The liquid you can see is dielectric, acting as an electrical insulator, which is polarised when an electric field is applied. The photo also shows a large workpiece – the steel block, which will become the mould itself – and the electrode, the copper coloured piece in the vice.

Both metal parts are submerged in the dielectric fluid and connected to a power supply. As the electrode approaches the workpiece a spark jumps between the two pieces, and the surface of the workpiece is eroded, ultimately carving an inverse shape of the piece to be created as the fluid flushes the removed metal away.

As detailed as it might be, this is just one section of the mould—you can see another piece below (you might be able to spot the shape of some legs in there too).

Aside from the physical manufacture, work is continuing in earnest on every part of Little Printer, both digital and physical. We’re just about to finalise the packaging design, and work is coming to a close on the second (and final) round of visuals for the mobile UI.

…So, we’d better get back to it!

A nice cup of tea for a Little Printer

In case you missed this over on the BERG Blog, we’re super proud to be #44 in Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.

Little Printer gets his own portrait, and a special mention in the write up.

In real life, our own Little Printers are nowhere near as relaxed at this right now. Work on all aspects of the design and manufacture is still in full flow, from circuit boards to fluted boards for packaging, publication design to font design.

Thanks to everyone for your continued interest and enthusiasm!

Little Printer on the road

I spent most of January on the road in the US taking Little Printer to meet new friends. I was in Portland, Las Vegas (for the Consumer Electronics Show), San Francisco/the Bay Area, and New York.

People took lots of pictures like this on Instagram:

Dens' Little Printer Instagram

(this is @dens from when I visited foursquare, one of our launch partners)

And here’s a picture from a @hondanhon, also on Instagram, testing the personal message functionality when I visited W+K:

Dan Hon's Little Printer Instagram

There were even ad hoc demos. Total coincidence: I ran into Caterina Fake at SFO. She was very kind to give Little Printer a ride into the city. I got to tag along too. Caterina took a photo of us:

Matt Webb and Little Printer

You can see the fancy metal case I travelled with. This is the pre-production model that appeared in the announcement film. You can bet the case never left my side.

So what did I learn?

Mainly, everyone loves LP, which is awesome. Every meeting I had, folks were bubbling with ideas with how their publications and services could appear on Little Printer. And that was the main purpose of the trip, for us to understand how people would like to develop for our product.

So as a result of the excitement we’re accelerating our development of the publishers API. We’re prioritising making Little Printer as easy as possible for publishers and service operators to integrate with their services. In the conversations I had – and in the emails we’ve received at bergcloud.com - we swapped a whole bunch of cool and unconventional ideas for using Little Printer. We’d like to see LP in all kinds of places and we’re excited that people could express themselves with all sorts of uses. That’s another reason for the API.

In answer to the usual frequently asked questions: no we’ve not announced a launch date or price yet. Watch this space!

MW.

NEW YEAR, NEW OFFICE, NEW CHALLENGES

Hello Little Printer

Hello, and happy new year! The second week of 2012 sees us settled in to our new studio. It’s not 100% finished, but good enough for work on Little Printer to begin again in earnest following our Christmas break.

2012 is the year manufacture will begin. Since the announcement last year comments and ideas have been coming in thick and fast.

As you can see from the film, a lot of work on Little Printer has been done already, but much more is still to come. Our focus right now is on the beta product, and getting that into the world and into your hands.

Feature Creep

Our plan for this blog is to share some of the advances and thoughts we have on the journey. It’s a tight schedule (which includes the imminent birth of three real children), and so we can’t promise updates every week. Occasionally we’ll post longer pieces sharing more detailed accounts, and sometimes speedy photographs, or links we’ve gathered along the way.

We can’t share firm dates or prices yet, but rest assured as soon as we have news we’ll announce it, here and via the mailing list.

And finally while we’re on the subject of links and making, Jack and Timo’s piece, ‘Change Through Making’, published in Eye magazine is now available online.

Onwards!

Hello again

It’s been a very busy few weeks since we announced Little Printer. Development work continues of course, but we’ve also been trying to keep on top of all the feedback which has come pouring in from every channel.

If you’ve emailed us, we’re doing our very best to get back to you as soon as we can. If you’ve sent us a message via twitter we’ve tried to capture the most frequently asked questions to create an FAQ.

As I type, Andy and Jack are discussing manufacturing details of the printer itself. James and Alice are working on different digital aspects, from the publications to the structure. We’re also in the middle of an office move – and my desk is covered in the sample publications of the last few months. I’m hoping that they’ll magically leap in to a box so I don’t have to start packing. We’re really excited about being somewhere with a little more space and a few more walls. Little Printer has grown up in such a tiny room I think he’ll love having somewhere bigger to stretch his legs.

For those of you wanting to get a more general feel for our plans, and BERG Cloud, Matt (Webb) is interviewed in two articles, which if you haven’t seen them are well worth a read. There’s a first look at Little Printer over on Fast Company, and a Q&A over at Core77.

Thanks so much for all the feedback you’ve given us – we’re really excited by your reaction, and working on bringing you more news as soon as possible.