From The Hive

Google Glass: in the eye of the beholder

Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.

There are two sides to the Google Glass experience: that of the wearer and that of everyone who encounters a person (cyborg?) who appears to have stepped off the set of “Star Trek.”

Behind Glass on a recent afternoon, I was alternately wowed by its capabilities and frustrated by its deficiencies. The intriguing, wearable computer could direct me to the nearest Mexican restaurant — putting a tiny map in the corner of my right eye that adjusted to every turn of my head — but could not compose a tweet. These days, even popcorn machines can tweet.


I tested Glass as a first-person video camera during a couple of interviews with entrepreneurs at Workbar in Cambridge. With impressive picture clarity, Glass recorded my conversations exactly as I saw them — a handy reporting tool, and one that put Investors Beat founder Shelli Trung at ease.

“I actually think it’s a bit more intimate,” said Trung, whose company publishes a real estate investment magazine. “There’s no camera guy. I feel like I’m just having a chat with you. It’s very natural, actually.”

But when I sat down with social media consultant Tammy Kahn Fennell, founder of MarketMeSuite, I got a different reaction.

“It’s a little weird,” Fennell told me. “I’ve done plenty of on-camera interviews, and I’m more comfortable with a giant lens next to me because I’m used to dealing with it.”


3-D printing expands to ceramics

This ceramic fruit bowl showed up at the Globe recently, addressed to me. It’s a product sample sent by Figulo, a South Boston company. And it’s the first 3-D printed item I’ve seen that I could imagine using in my daily life — as opposed to chalky, fragile prototypes or “toys” that only last if they’re kept on a shelf.


It was designed by University of California, Berkeley architect Ronald Rael, who runs a website called Emerging Objects. “The piece was just a cool little design study of his,” Figulo founder Andy Jeffery said.

An inkjet printer head in the 3-D printer spits out a powder formulated by Figulo that includes a solid glue. Then, it adds a water-based fluid that “dissolves the glue and binds the joints of the ceramic particles together,” Jeffery explains.

The printer head builds the object one layer at a time, resulting in a green ceramic piece. “It gets fired in one of our kilns, then we glaze it and fire it again, so it’s food-safe. We don’t claim it’s microwaveable or dishwasher safe.”

It takes about two hours for the printer to produce a bowl. “If we get an order on Monday, we can ship it on Friday,” Jeffery said.

Orders come through 3-D printing sites such as Shapeways and Cubify.


Watch for the blind proves popular

MIT start-up Eone Timepieces has rocketed past a $40,000 Kickstarter fund-raising goal five days into the campaign, with orders for its blind-accessible wristwatch exceeding $300,000.

The interest in the watch, which allows wearers to tell time using their sense of touch, is a relief to founder Hyungsoo Kim, who had been unable to attract funders and was running on the fumes of a $150,000 personal investment.

The surprisingly high demand is also a bit daunting, Kim confessed.

“It’s making me quite nervous, to be honest,” said Kim. “It’s something that we didn’t really expect. Now, we feel like we really cannot make any mistakes at this point.”


The watch, named the Bradley after Paralympic swimmer Bradley Snyder, uses ball bearings, not hands, to mark time. A magnetic field pulls the bearings into place if the wearer moves them while checking the time.

Kim said he plans to bring aboard designers David Zacher and Amanda Sim as full-time employees. The team’s next project is an alarm clock that blind users can set using only their sense of touch.