GF app store...?


#1

Dan did not seem very open to the idea of an open API in this post Open API? and he gave his reasons. But the conversation on this post Optical Alignment - possible for multiples? got me thinking…

If they don’t offer an open API (which in our view would be a shame), what about the option of a kind of app store? This would mean that we could create apps that would allow the GF cameras to recognise specific object sizes / shapes (per the original video). I think there may be all sorts of possibilities.

It may recognise an object of say 320x30x3mm in size (a tolerance factor could be specified in the app) and offer designs for a school ruler for instance. It may recognize the size of a common pencil and offer a design I stored with my daughter’s initials on, etc etc. The user selects the material, puts 20 of them on the print bed and presto - GF auto-aligns for the random orientation of each object individually, knowing the origin point and offset, all as specified in the app.

GF could approve apps for safety and security purposes like Apple does.

A few more benefits of such an app store would be:

  1. A user could put a random household object into the GF and see if someone has come up with a design for it - suggestions would pop up from the GF catalog if the shape has been ‘defined’ by an app.
  2. From the other end, people could see what shapes have been ‘apped’ and come up with their own design for that object. Phones and tablets are the obvious ones but what about a specific iPhone case if I happen to not want to engrave my $800 computer in my pocket (I use one from these guys: http://houdt.co.za/). Or a memory stick for company branding (there are some nice bamboo ones).
  3. GF could also identify the shape of an object that may not be safe to laser - such as a Barby doll (which should rather be burned at the stake).
  4. Suppliers of products could ‘app’ their products, offering potential customers an incentive to buy - “Glowforge certified”. I would buy those bamboo memory sticks very quickly if I know I could just shove a bunch of them into my GF, add my company logo and just press “print” for a perfectly aligned company branded, quality product.

Good community incentive. Commercial incentive. Browse appeal. Could be interesting.


#2

GF have said they’ll release the firmware, so while an app store might be off the table for now (I doubt it will stay off the table forever, third party extensions of SW capability is usually advantageous to product growth, look at OnShape) custom designed firmware/software is almost certain to happen. Most makers can’t help but hack their tools.


#3

I believe they said the firmware will be released if for some reason they have to shutdown the cloud service. I don’t think they will be releasing it otherwise. I could be wrong but maybe @dan can weigh in on that.


#4

#5

@dan committed to releasing the firmware, but please note this comment and response from earlier this year:


#6

None of your examples sound like they would need an app, except for the “Place object in and get design suggestions pulled from store by camera”

The alignment of designs on objects is what any store design should be able to do from already stated goals of the company. So all of that portion would be accomplished already (I hope).

Searching the store based on object to be engraved would be nice, and hopefully they have tags, SEO or whatever set up to make that easy to do.


#7

Well that good to know, but the 3rd party firmware would have to offer a huge advantage for me to even think about flashing it. And that would only be after the warranty expires.


#8

Definitely a post-warranty item - right along with the Dremel hack of the enclosure to allow some real Z axis height as well as useful pass-thru slot :grinning:.

But it wouldn’t be hard to replicate much of the GF core functionality (excluding the camera tricks) and eliminate the dependence on being hooked to the web. The open source LaserWeb (“web” only because it uses a browser to control it - it’s hosted on your local machine) project is one example. I think that took around 6 months. It does things like grayscale and 3D engraving that we’re hoping will be on the GF.


#9

Honestly, I’m probably not going to wait til the warranty runs out before I hack the enclosure. :slight_smile:


#10

So ‘app’ might not be the correct term here. What I am suggesting is giving users a way to set up custom shapes (including depth) for GF to recognize. And then I expanded on the possibilities that may follow.

Except in the case of some ‘i-devices’ alignment will be manual.


#11

Wouldn’t it be simpler to defeat the interlocks and simply open the front door?


#12

That doesn’t let the already carved pieces out the back side though.

Opening the front alone will let you double your available length. To go beyond double, you need a second hole.


#13

Ah, I thought you were aiming to do thicker deep materials, but yeah, makes sense.


#14

I’m thinking something like the Laser Origami video, where ya got 6" of Z axis clearance… sectioning off the entire bottom of the GF case and extending it lower so there is room for taller items. Opening the top doesnt give the clearance because the laser bed is already near the bottom.


#15

Thanks for the suggestions, @Duality! I particularly appreciate that you not just explained the idea, but the use cases that help us understand why you suggest it. That helps us more than anything.

In the hopper it goes! :slight_smile:


#16

I’d love to see your hopper priority list one day… Would you guys consider an ‘up-voting’ system once the machines are in the wild and the dust has settled?


#17

I haven’t seen such a system run effectively. I have seen it done a few different ways, and each one was garbage.

One, everyone can only vote on 5 threads, everyone who has an idea makes a thread. Votes wind up split across multiple threads asking for essentially the same thing.

Another one, people just upvote the list the developers have, and then complain when something WAY down the list gets finished before the one at the top of the list. But that one which was done only needed about 2 lines of code and was a sure thing for zero complications, while the top of the list items would almost all require ground up code overhauls.

Hopper is nice. But as much as we yearn to see it, that is Pandora’s Box.


#18

Where I work we use Aha Ideas internally to suggest and vote/recommend feature updates and additions. These then get curated, combined, and promoted to features by our product teams. It’s worked very well. The key is you have to have active management of the idea pool for the system to be effective. You also have to be clear about what customers can expect from the company. Not every idea is good no matter how many votes it gets, and some things won’t get done. A well trained user-base is helpful for the success of a public idea board.


#19

I would agree that such a system is not perfect and would have to be managed well. However, I have been involved in a software beta programme (otoy.com) where this was very useful and insightful. Webydo.com is another platform where I have seen a system like this seem to prove useful.

I think what would make GF interesting is the community engagement. Even the opportunity to have a say in what would get priority is a real community thing and has value in itself.


#20

Internal use (all voters and potential complainers on the payroll) it is awesome.

Direct client use (contract clearly outlined, any new features mean schedule or money costs) it is decent.

General internet access for couch warrior abuse? Haven’t seen it work.

Which is a longer way of repeating your point “A well trained user-base is helpful for the success of a public idea board.”