Various companies dealing in software and services may try to steal the spotlight when it comes to Seattle’s tech scene. But we still love to get a look at the innovative technologies and hardware gadgets created by some of the city’s geekiest entrepreneurs.
Inventions We Love has always been a crowd favorite at the GeekWire Summit, as new products for work and play and everything in between are pitched and then picked apart.
This year, GeekWire was excited to welcome to the main stage three inventors, showing off haptic technology for virtual reality, processes for creating clothing with less textile waste, and a way to ensure that self-driving automobiles can see more clearly.
Getting the look of virtual reality right is certainly one challenge innovators in the cutting-edge space face. But what about getting the feel right?
Haptic touches can enhance an entire VR experience, and the Seattle startup HaptX is literally focusing on touch with its HaptX Gloves, which co-founder Bob Crockett showed off Wednesday at the GeekWire Summit. The technology relies on microfluidic technology and motion tracking to let users move through virtual environments and feel virtual objects with their hands.
“I’m at a disadvantage because talking about haptics is like dancing about physics,” Crockett said as he shook hands with GeekWire’s co-founders while wearing one of his gloves.
The gloves feature 130 tactile pixels that let users “feel” objects in a virtual environment. Users see a representation of their hand in that environment and interact with objects that aren’t there.
“Businesses are lined up because they know the potential of VR,” Crockett said of the gloves, which are an enterprise product right now. “To do high-end simulation and design you need to interact with that world in a way that feels natural.”
Crockett said the automotive industry has jumped to the forefront among those interested in HaptX. Car interiors, where controls and button placement are an important design consideration, can be replicated in VR and replace the need for physical mockups.
As for the genesis of the idea, Crockett relayed what he was thinking after meeting with co-founder and CEO Jake Rubin.
“I couldn’t prove to myself that it couldn’t be done, so we did it,” Crockett said.
If casual Friday extends to pretty much every day of the week at your workplace, the high-tech jeans created by Seattle-based startup Evrnu could be just the fit for the city’s tech community.
Evrnu CEO Stacy Flynn has a long history in the fashion and garment industry, and she admitted Wednesday that the apparel industry is one of the most damaging industries on the planet.
Recycled fiber could be the answer to cutting back on extraordinary amounts of waste.
In partnership with Levi Strauss & Co., Evrnu created a pair of 511 jeans manufactured from a mix of virgin cotton and yarn made from approximately five discarded cotton T-shirts. The jean prototype relies on technology that takes discarded consumer waste and converts it into renewable fiber.
The environmentally minded company is committed to reducing the amount of textile waste it takes to create the clothing we wear.
Flynn said Evrnu has spent four years developing its tech and market and is now building out the ability to scale. Flynn got her first purchase order to go to retail this week and hopes to go big by 2020.
Father-daughter team Jere Lansinger and Diane Lansinger can see through a clean windshield directly at the self-driving cars coming our way.
In fact, Diane Lansinger, the CEO of SEEVA Technologies took the stage at the GeekWire Summit and predicted we’ll see a hefty presence of autonomous vehicles on roadways by 2025. And eventually, our kids will look at driving a car with the novelty we might equate with riding a horse.
SEEVA Technologies has a product that they believe will help autonomous vehicles perform better in adverse weather conditions.
A patented system — designed by longtime automotive engineer Jere Lansinger — heats up washer fluid very quickly and efficiently and distributes it around the vehicle to clean surfaces of cameras and lidar in seconds.
“If you think about how cars and driver’s see today, it’s mainly driver perception,” Diane Lansinger said. “We help cars see better. What we are working on is helping the car see when you are no longer part of the driving equation.”
Watch the video above for more cool details and see all of our GeekWire Summit coverage here.