Gearbox’s Smart Ball Street-tested in Aspen

Mini Maker Faire Aspen

Saturday we flew (yes, flew) up to Aspen to demo some of our smart toys at Mini Maker Faire Aspen. One of our lead mentors at Techstars, Paul Berberian, who we have been working with very closely is also a pilot. Response to the Smart Ball was killer! We had lots of parents asking us when they will be able to buy the Smart Ball for their kids. It’s really a great motivator to hear this from future customers!

After working in the office eighteen hour days seven days a week on the ball we have some pretty strong assumptions going to an event like this about how we think people will interact with it. However, it’s really interesting to see how our assumptions actually play out on the street. For instance, when we designed the current control system it was based off very subtle control where you really only need to tilt the phone +-20 degrees to hit a maximum range of speed. In actuality though nearly everyone who has tested it outside of our company tilts the phone 90 degrees or more. To make the ball go right they will sometimes even tilt the phone so far right it is upside down. This on-the-street feedback is proving very valuable so we can make a quick iterations of the control algorithm.

Lesson learned: Small kids with small hands don’t grip onto $600 smart phones very well. We will be buying cases for all our demo phones before the next event.

I like Ian’s story about what he learned from testing their new product in front of parents and kids at the recent Aspen Mini-Maker Faire.

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