3D Printing, Hardware Startups, and Hacks Invade Silicon Valley
Is hardware making a comeback in Silicon Valley? It seems that way with hardware startups from Y Combinator, projects from Kickstarter, and legendary designers creating new devices like Tony Fadell at Nest.
Part of the formula for success in software has been rapid prototyping. Developers could build something quickly, test it with users and either iterate or abandon the feature. Now this is happening in hardware thanks to 3D printing.
The New York Times featured this growing trend of hardware startups and hacks.
“Something that once took three months to make now takes less than a month,” explained Andre Yousefi, co-founder of Lime Lab, a product development firm based in San Francisco that works with start-ups to create hardware products. “With 3D printers, you can now create almost disposable prototypes,” he said. “You queue it up at night, pick it up in the morning and can throw it away by 11 a.m.”
The rapidly falling cost of building computer-based gadgets has touched off a wave of innovation that is starting to eclipse the software-driven world that came to dominate the Valley in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.
“If we look hard over the last 10 or 15 years, people don’t realize how different the world is now compared to 1996,” said Sean O’Sullivan, a venture capitalist who splits his time between the United States, Ireland and China. “Products like the iPhone have driven down the cost of components. You can now easily make connected devices that transform lives in the way we have only been able to do with software before.”
Read more at the New York Times.
Nest thermostat photo by Nest used under Creative Commons license.