Hardware and Software Converge at the August New York Tech Meetup

8/6/14Follow @jpruth

The digital and real worlds came together at this month’s New York Tech Meetup.

Monday night’s gathering featured demos by the likes of Ringly, a type of “smart jewelry” which alerts the wearer to incoming messages; MongoDB talking up its new server management tools; and online library MyMiniFactory, which features 3D printing designs people can download.

MyMiniFactory  is an independent London-based website for buying complete 3D printed items as well as designs that can be printed at home. Founder Sylvain Preumont said each design on his site has been tested in some way on a 3D printer—though not with every 3D printer that is on the market.

The idea, he said, is to give users some assurance the final products will resemble the actual design, rather than lumps of plastic. “If you realize after five or six hours that it’s not what you wanted or doesn’t work properly, you’re disappointed and you wasted a lot of material,” he said.

Preumont’s site is not the only place on the Web that brings 3D printing to the masses. Thingiverse, run by MakerBot Industries in Brooklyn, is a site where folks share designs that can be used to create 3D printed objects at home. Meanwhile, New York-based Shapeways has a website that lets designers sell 3D printed products, which are produced on demand by the company.

In addition to MyMiniFactory, Preumont is the founder of London’s Instant Makr (iMakr), which sells 3D printers, scanners, and materials. Lately he seems to be growing his company’s presence in the U.S.

In June, iMakr opened a store in New York, its second location. This push by Preumont is part of the international spread of 3D printing—last week, MakerBot expanded overseas with the acquisition of Hafner’s Büro, a Germany-based reseller of its printers.

Wearable devices also stepped into the spotlight on Monday. Ringly makes rings linked via an app to smartphones. The rings can be set to vibrate with different patterns for incoming messages such as calls and texts from specific people, and alerts for upcoming appointments.

Smart jewelry tends to offer more simplified features than smartwatches that link with phones, such as Pebble. Others in the smart jewelry sector include ringblingz, one of the startups in the first class of the R/GA Accelerator. Ringblingz rings light up when select people contact the wearer.

There were also plenty of demos this month from the software realm. A couple of them drew inspiration from the user interface popularized by dating app Tinder, which lets users swipe right or left to show interest in or pass on a potential match.

So it became a bit of a running theme Monday when this type of interface was echoed by some of the apps on stage. Caliber, for instance, is a business contacts app that connects tech professionals if they both swipe right. Zola, a digital wedding registry, lets couples peruse potential gifts they may want. If they swipe left on a product, they get details. If users then swipe right, the item is added to their gift registry.

There was nothing Tinder-like about MongoDB’s demo, though. Co-founder and CTO Eliot Horowitz showed how his company, which developed an open-source database, tackles the challenge of dealing with scores and scores of computers. The othernews from MongoDB this week was the hiring of Dev Ittycheria as its new CEO and president. Ittycheria will start in September as speculation swirls of a possible IPO.

Meanwhile, Horowitz demoed a new software tool that can manage clusters of servers and update software across many computers en masse. “Instead of logging into 30 different servers to do an upgrade, it takes five clicks,” he said. The management tool is in beta trials now, Horowitz said, with plans for a full release in the coming weeks.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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