Eric Gu works in the same office as the Aniwaa team. He’s a busy man with many projects, always tinkering with his raspberry pies, VR headsets and what not. When he came in one day with the idea for InfiniFab, an augmented reality interface for 3D printing, and then later with the app itself, we thought our readers might be curious to learn about it. At Aniwaa, we try to be as involved as possible with the tech we cover. We are always looking for ways to make emerging technologies more accessible, for professionals but also tech enthusiasts.
Hi Eric, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I moved to Cambodia one year ago for a sabbatical. Before that, I’d been teaching AI and personal robot design at Imperial College in London while managing the U.K. side of a design firm called LaurinLab. When I arrived in Phnom Penh, I thought I’d only be here for a month at most. Originally the plan was to do the digital nomad thing and hop around Southeast Asia. However, once I started getting involved with the maker community here, I quickly fell in love and decided to stay.
I have since been working on several projects: a smart hotel, teaching VR game design at local schools, animal rescue and sanctuary work, and working remotely for British and Japanese companies. Also, I began giving workshops introducing augmented reality to local businesses, giving seminars on the potential of AI especially. I have also been working with local entrepreneurs and organizations to bring VR technology to Cambodia. For example, I am working with Cambodian Living Arts to document and share their projects using new technology. Doing all this work, I realized a lot of people didn’t easily adopt or approach new technologies such as VR, AI, AR, 3D printing or IoT, even though they had the potential to greatly benefit their lives. In a way, InfiniFab is the fruit of this experience.
Tell us more about InfiniFab, what exactly is it? How did you make use of augmented reality?
My office is in the same space as Aniwaa’s, so every day I’m bombarded with conversations about 3D printing. Listening in to these, I began to wonder how I could make 3D printing more intuitive. I asked myself: could I create an augmented reality app that would make this technology accessible to everyone? The answer came to me while swimming laps. When I returned to the office I started coding the app and InfiniFab was born.
The app has been designed to make any 3D printer stored on our cloud network accessible via a smart marker. The point is to allow users to view, manipulate and print 3D files with their smartphones. It also allows users to compare and adjust the dimensions of 3D prints using augmented reality, making certain applications more intuitive and less wasteful. Users will also be able to access 3D printers around them, search by cost, by materials, and so on. So what exactly does this look like? The two main components are a smartphone app and a universal controller. The first is to help users manipulate their 3D models in situ, thanks to cloud-enabled markers, while the other is there to connect the software to the hardware.
What does this look like in action? Have you gotten any feedback?
I’ve used it myself recently to design and 3D print a prosthetic limb for a kitten. It was helpful when it came to defining the right dimensions, and will be even handier in a couple of months when the kitty will have outgrown it and will need a new one. I’ve also shared the app with people in my network and the feedback has been very encouraging.
So what’s next?
The plan is to launch a Kickstarter during the second half of May 2018 to raise the funds we need to make InfiniFab take-off. I’m currently working with my co-founder, Klara Grintal, to get all the bits and pieces we need to make sure this campaign is not only successful but inspiring. The goal is to demonstrate how accessible this tech has become and that it can change lives for the better in ways most people haven’t imagined yet.
About Eric Gu: Before relocating to Phnom Penh, Eric lived in London, where he was a teaching fellow and lecturer at the Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art London. He was also the general manager and partner at LaurinLab London, a strategic design company, where he had the opportunity to do AI consulting work with clients such as Ericsson and Fujitsu.