Hilo : Smartphone as Physical Platform

Firstly, this:

Which is a Kickstarter project from New Zealand… achieved with the help of a US partner – because Kickstarter is US only… or was… Kickstarter is (as of this month), UK (and I think that means EU) capable as well now. Kickstarter UK pulled down about a million dollars in its first week.

I like this mirror thing – because it’s something I’ve attempted to make myself, and it’s actually pretty difficult. I tried to make one out of a dentist’s mirror, and a computer hard-drive… neither of which worked terribly well (apparently you can make laser-cutter mirrors out of hard-drives). To a make camera-capable thing though, you need special mirrors and special lenses… and according to this video, special software as well. It’s not as easy as holding a mirror up in front of the lens.

I suspect that one of the main uses is to take photos of people without them knowing. The universal panopticon just got a little smarter. People can now take photos and videos without it looking like they’re taking photos and videos. With these you can use Augmented Reality apps without looking like a doofus. It removes the Segway Factor from AR. I think this little gadget has wheels.

I’d buy one like a shot, except that:

I don’t like this mirror thing because it’s Apple-only, and Apple are on the wrong side in the war on open computing. Apple is the Monsanto of tech. They’re actually more despicable than Microsoft – and that takes a bit of doing. If I had my way, trying to take control of the root would be a criminal offense – on a par with planting malware on a machine… which is exactly what it is. It’s baked in malware. As far as I’m concerned, Apple are a criminal organisation – and it’s not because their products are made by slaves, and they only pay 2% tax. Taking control of the root needs to be up there with “thou shalt not kill”.

But other people either don’t know or don’t care… so the vast majority of “Smartphone Accessories” on Kickstarter are iPhone only.

That little Robot (Romo? Roveo) – whatever is now back for its second round of Kickstarter funding – something that triggered me asking for my money back for the first round – because I “invested” in one of their robots, and it didn’t work. They sent a replacement, that didn’t work either. To be fair, they’ve behaved in a completely helpful and professional matter, apart from being incredibly slow to respond. I wish them well… their new offering however is iPhone only, because apparently their developers ran screaming from the room when it was suggested they do something for Android.

When I asked the Hilo guys about Android, they said “we’re releasing the schematics, so if you want to make your own version to fit your own phone, you can”. I think you’d still need the app… no word as to whether there’s an android version of that… but the idea of 3D-Printer-Capable adaptability built into the design/offering is an incredibly powerful one I think.

And that, is (now I’ve finally gotten to it) the whole point of this post.

It’d already crossed my mind that there are vast fields of possibility using rapid-fabbing technology to get iPhone accessories to fit Android phones… similar to the way that the company that created Pinterest knockoff Pinspire, has made hundreds of millions of dollars executing the formula: Find an app that is US only; make a non-geo-crippled clone; sell it original app’s owners… this could also be done for Android users wanting accessories that are only available on iPhone… and in fact, rapid fabbing might be THE only way of doing it practically. There used to be (and probably still is) an open-source library (in the shape of a giant XML file) that contained the screen specifications for every cellphone, back in the days when screens were the size of matchbooks. I can envisage something similar for hardware… a library of every phone or arduino/Pi variant… so the people who invent things like the Hilo, can provide the vitamin parts (mirrors, lenses) and create a couple of mounts for popular devices… then on their website, host a user-contributed library of CAD files for people with less common phones to print their own.

For quite a while now, I’ve been saying “the only thing that repraps produce that’s actually useful, is reprap parts”… but I’m (personally) finding that that is beginning to change… because there are things that either don’t exist, or are impossibly difficult to find. I can think of 3 of them, off the top of my head, that I could use right now… daft things like a panel-mounting for micro-usb socket. You can’t buy them. No idea why not, but you can’t. Inline sockets for fig-8 mains plugs is another one.

It may just be that the killer-app of 3D printers is creating adapters/housings for vitamin-parts, not just for repraps or phones, but for everything.

So maybe that’s what this is useful for.

PS: Bet you can’t guess what that random photo of an old 1960s fish eye lens is…

… it’s a Nikkor 8mm f1.8 1:8 Fisheye Lens Nikon F2 Mount…

aka: HAL 9000

4 Comments » for Hilo : Smartphone as Physical Platform
  1. Steve says:

    Why defend a monopoly on the use of force (government) and their instrument of forced-financing of services (taxation), while attacking a company who offers a voluntary opt-in technology service? It seems that Apple’s avoidance of 2% tax, and their bureaucratic, centralized closed-source system is still dwarved by a government who can arbitrarily tax us and then spend our money however it wishes, on expensive wars that don’t protect us in proportion to their expense, on policing non-violent actions (drug use) that leads to higher risk of death… the crimes of coercive monopolies (governments) are so huge, it’s inconsistent to treat Apple’s “control of the root” as uniquely wrong.

  2. admin says:


    a) Government is how we organise ourselves at national (or whatever) level. You may see it as The Enemy, but I’m guessing that’s because you’re a deluded Libertarian, and are incapable of seeing the benefits that other people’s taxes have given you.

    Tax is how we pay for infrastructure, and countries with healthy levels of social-spending do better by any social-metric you care to measure. Over and over and over again.

    Apple is using your infrastructure, and getting you to pay for it. Thinking that the answer is for nobody to pay for the infrastructure, or to privatise it is willfully ignorant of the damage that both of these approaches have visibly created.

    And yes, taxes need to be collected (if need be) using the force of the law, because there will always be people such as yourself who are too selfish and short-sighted to contribute… a POV enthusiastically abetted by your right-wing medial, who would be only to happy to throw your democracy to the dogs.

    Maybe your taxes wouldn’t be so high (if they are at all, which I doubt because you’ve impoverished yourself by privatising everything) if corporations like Apple actually contributed their share.

    Here’s a timeline of the great depression, with a specific focus on tax:


    You’re a 1930s kind of a guy, still thinking that it’s the 1920s. Good luck with that.

    b) Ownership of the root of a computer, when there are only a couple of vendors is not “voluntary”. Ownership of the root of a computer when people don’t actually know what the ramifications of that are is not “voluntary”.

    the reason we have an internet now, is because the early computers (and the internet for that matter) were built upon fundamentally open principles. Apple is trying to implant malware at the heart of the technology that is containing ALL of our communication systems.

    More on the war on open computing here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYqkU1y0AYc

    You’re American aren’t you? You live in a peculiar bubble that the other 95% of humanity has perspective on. You have arguably the most corrupted democracy in the world… corrupted by corporate money… and have bizarrely come up with the idea that the best way of dealing with this is to cede all remaining power to the very corporations who are doing the corrupting.

    Sweden has double the social mobility that the US does. If you are an American and not already rich, then you have 50% disadvantage… because you’ve been persuaded that tax is a “burden” rather than something that keeps the whole thing running.

    Europeans migrated to America to get away from a crushing class-system… and what have you done? You’ve created a class-system of your own, that’s even worse than Europe’s… and your solution? Increase the tendencies that will make it worse.

    As I say. Good luck with that.

  3. Steve says:

    The actions of humans are more complex than can be centrally calculated. This is the root problem of government action, it gives just a few people control over the economic decisions that are typically made by many more qualified humans. The public is like a supercomputer, making real-time calculations to optimize their varying levels of price/quality/energy-saving preferences. Govt, composed of people no better than the public, is like a single node. The Great Depression was caused the federal reserve’s monopoly on determining interest rates, something that a free market decides based on savings – the more savings in banks, the easier access they have to money, the lower they can charge interest rates. When savings starts to drop, banks increase interest rates to draw more savings. The federal reserve, on the other hand, using their team of bureaucrats and statisticians make “punctuated equilibrium” adjustments midstream that just fuck up (benefit some, harm others) the system.

    “Apple is using your infrastructure, and getting you to pay for it.” – Do you mean roads? Both buyer and seller pay for the cost of gas and associated taxes passed on in the form of shipping costs. This is what makes no sense when people say businesses should pay more taxes… do you think they can do that and not also have to charge us more? In a competitive free market, lower taxes absolutely leads to lower prices, unless tyrannical government-enforced IP laws prevent competition from arising. China doesn’t seem to enforce IP, and their economy is thriving because of it.

    I like what Bill Gates and John Doerr and others have said about China, “The Chinese have risk taking down, hard work down, education, and when you meet with Chinese politicians, they are all scientists and engineers. You can have a numeric discussion with them – you are never discussing ‘give me a one-liner to embarrass [my political rivals] with.’ You are meeting with an intelligent bureaucracy.”-B. Gates

    In a free system, engineers would rise to the top, since they have the most scientific, realistic worldview, most devoid of all irrationality, and as Ayn Rand put it, “capitalism is the only system that functions in a way which rewards rationality and penalizes all forms of irrationality.” In supporting taxation, you’re supporting stealing money from the rise of the engineering revolution. Honestly, who would do more to increase the propagation of a high standard of living, google, apple and amazon or the government officials who get $Billions from them in taxes? And what exactly are the services government provides when I buy an iPad from Apple that didn’t exist without the trade, for which a tax is charged? What did government DO for the $28 tax on $399 that they didn’t provide had I not bought the thing? Do you see how imperfect this is? For internet, I know what I get for the money. For government it’s FUZZY AS SHIT.

    If corporations run government, then the solution is to lower the power of government, NOT increase it. It’s faulty logic to say “X controls Y, therefore let’s empower Y even more.” The more you increase the power of 1 entity, the more you incentivize others to try to control it through lobbying (just a few people to lobby, vs. lobbying the entire public). Govt is a monopoly service provider who charges a premium for inferior products, the alternatives of which we never see because the simulation of a non-existent scenario is invisible. Perhaps you have a problem with the “monopolies” of the past and think the free market leads to high prices. The exact opposite is true. Customer-chosen monopolies, such as Standard Oil, led to them having a 90% market share while at the same time, a gallon of gas dropped from 58c to just 8c. The anti-trust laws were not to help consumers get lower prices, but to benefit competition (i.e. to help them profit more using the force of the state). Myth of the Robber Barons: http://www.fee.org/nff/the-myth-of-the-robber-barons/

    Taxes are theft. This isn’t disputable. It was once a reasonable means to achieve resource base for large-scale projects not logistically possible, but above all, you know the potential of science and technology to solve the mass of problems, the solutions on which the govt currently holds a monopoly (roads would be built by self-interested retailers, tourist destinations, housing complex builders… the destination comes before the road… and those who want to live in the middle of nowhere should finance the road, not force people who want to efficiently live in cities to pay higher taxes. A free market society devoid of government would result in something like Linear Cities, or large city nodes connected by high speed lines to other cities/resource bases. Urban sprawl is the result of govt’s monopoly on road building.

  4. Nick Taylor says:

    Sorry, that’s confused bollocks filled with baseless assertions and zero evidence.

    You need to stop watching so many conspiracy-theory videos on youtube.