LuminAR digital desk-lamp wins $15k innovation funding

Jul 9, 2010
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Remember the LuminAR digital desk-lamp that used a pico-projector and gesture/glyph recognition to create a digital workspace?  The chances of seeing a more polished version hit stores has just climbed a little, with the news that the MIT graduate responsible for the concept, Natan Linder, has just won Audi's Tony Stark Innovation Challenge.  Winning the competition - a tie-in with the Iron Man movie franchise, which features several Audi cars - nets Linder $15,000 to further develop LuminAR.

Now, $15k may not be a vast amount in the grand scheme of product development - how much do you think Microsoft have written off in cancelling Kin? - but hopefully it'll be enough for Linder to get LuminAR to a stage where the inevitable investor interest sees something workable.

Press Release:

Audi Announces Winner of 'The Tony Stark Innovation Challenge'

- MIT Graduate Student Natan Linder wins $15,000 in funding for his invention LuminAR

HERNDON, Va., July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of Audi's integration in Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment's Iron Man 2, Audi of America, Inc., announced the winner of its social media competition "Stark Expo & Audi Present: The Tony Stark Innovation Challenge." MIT Graduate Student Natan Linder will receive $15,000 in funding to develop his invention, LuminAR, a digital bulb with built-in Internet technology that can project web content onto any surface. With the extension of a robotic lamp arm, LuminAR becomes a mobile internet projector. A video describing his invention can be viewed at http://audi.us/TonyStarkWinner.

"The Tony Stark Innovation Challenge" was designed to mirror Tony Stark's desire to take Stark Industries in a new direction, using vast intellect and resources to eradicate problems through technology. Participants submitted videos with their concepts, and users rated the ideas.

"The Tony Stark Innovation Challenge has fulfilled Audi's goal to provide support to a forward-thinking innovator who can make the world a better place through technology," said Scott Keogh, CMO of Audi of America. "LuminAR is a progressive product that brings technology closer to the user."

Linder's LuminAR submission was one of the highest rated videos and received 132,112 views on YouTube, the most out of all the submissions received. The video then became one of two finalist videos judged by Audi of America executives, where it received the highest ranking. The runner-up video was created by Bobby Triantos, who will receive $5,000 in funding for his in-car Heads-up Augmented Reality Projection System concept.

"There is a transformation that happens from what you see in movies and how you perceive robotics. They eventually become things that we use everyday," said Linder. "This is the idea that really drew me to the contest because—aside from being a fan of Iron Man—it represents a vision that I feel really connected to."

Linder, who is a first year Masters student in the Fluid Interfaces group at the MIT Media Lab, aims to fully develop LuminAR in three to five years. He envisions the product becoming as common as everyday light fixtures. As a ten-year industry veteran of computer science and product design, Linder worked for Sun Microsystems, and was the co-founder of Samsung Electronics Israel R&D Center where he served as its Mobile R&D General Manager. He was also an Entrepreneur in Residence at Jerusalem Venture Partners, a leading VC in Israel. Prior to joining the Fluid Interfaces group, Linder was the Lead UI Designer at Heartland Robotics.

Linder will receive:

$15,000 in funding to develop his concept
His experience documented and featured on www.audiusa.com
A four-day trip for two to California including air transportation, hotel and meals
Transportation in the latest innovation from Audi, the 2011 A8
Spa treatments, tailored cocktail attire, and grooming to perfect his Stark style
A tour of Audi Design Center in Santa Monica
A VIP day with the ICON Aircraft team, joining them in flight and water testing of the innovative ICON A5 aircraft (one of Tony Stark's toys)
A day at the Audi Sports Car Experience to drive Tony Stark's favorite car, the Audi R8 on a racetrack

Tony Stark is seen throughout Iron Man 2 in his Audi R8 Spyder, the new soft top convertible version of the R8 super car which was featured in the first Iron Man. In addition to the R8 Spyder, the A8 sedan is also showcased in the film.


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