by ROLAND WHITE CBN Feature Writer
From tech savvy to tech interested, curious minds are thriving on open platform concepts for bringing to life new ideas and promoting passionate discussions on the forefront of emerging technology in science and tech driven businesses.
There was a buzz of excited conversation and observation at the at the April 2 meeting of the Hack Night Bend gathering that brought together modern day technical wizards and attracted about 60 people who were all excited to see 3D Printers, High Tech Precision 3D Scanning equipment and VT, Virtual Reality headgear in action.
Hack Night Bend started late in 2010, but has had its low and high points over the years. The current resurgence in attendance is in part because of the enthusiasm of co-founder/organizer Mark Silliman, CEO of Smartwaiver.com, who has beat the drum for a more open social event with interesting exhibits and stimulating conversation.
Silliman explains, “The history of Hack Night exceeds my time in Bend (four years) but its organizational roles have passed down from person to person over the years. My role in the group right now is to simply provide a space, minimal financial support and a dream. The biggest change, I think, since we started hosting the event three months ago is that the Meetup is now more social in nature. My hope is that, through the social interactions at these events, the Bend tech community is able to grow exponentially.”
At meeting time the room was shoulder to shoulder with interested people crowding in to take turns looking at the various demo areas including the Virtual Reality goggles which were programmed to show a 3D underwater world of swaying sea grass and life-like oxygen bubbles floating lazily through the watery seascape in any direction you could focus. These Virtual Reality Headsets were made by Oculus Rift; Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently purchased the company for two billion dollars.
Silliman says “The goggles demonstrated were the original Oculus Rift Developer Kit so it’s not a fair example of the future quality of these units.”
With the help of Scott Brees and the High Desert Makers Mill there were two 3D copiers showing that this technology is alive and well here in Central Oregon. Mike Aller of Etch-N-Cut Laser Engraving Services was busy making 3D copies of small objects from gears to small copies of original parts for mechanical applications.
Also on hand was Mike Walker, who describes himself as a Central Oregon native electronic gearhead. “I started playing with computers and electronic hardware in 1980,” Walker explained. “I’m currently interested in the Makerspace / Hackerspace concept. My current job lists me as technology / innovation manager. There are plans for 3D copiers that can create all the geared parts for a sophisticated clock, and with my job at Jeld-Wen I’m able to apply the 3D copier technology to problem solving challenges while on the job.”
A very exciting demonstration on display was from Daniel Ferguson Co-founder of GIS, Global Inspection Solutions from Portland showing their state of the art 3D scanning also named 3D digitization. Their process can scan from very small objects to full size humans for life-like full scale sized sculptural applications. Their services also include Reverse Engineering and 3D Geometric Inspection.
Ferguson explains, “3D digitization (sometimes 3D scanning) is a method of capturing the external surface geometry of an object as digital 3D. All 3D digitizing processes collect a series of 3D points, either by means of a touch probe, which collects one point at a time, or by our process, which is able to sample an entire surface in a few seconds. Results can vary from a few sample points to a million or more per scan.”
At the end of the evening, the event appeared very successful with all the exhibits surrounded by curious onlookers asking lots of questions. Silliman was pleased with the turnout and curiosity of the tech interested Bend community.
“My hope is that the group and the excitement around the group grows organically and ultimately becomes one of the driving forces that attracts more talented tech entrepreneurs to Bend,” offers Silliman. “There are a number of factors that can influence an entrepreneur’s decision to move to a certain region: education, financing, infrastructure, etc, but I feel that by far the most important is a passionate community. Few entrepreneurs create great products and services in a vacuum. The social aspect that goes along with creating innovative, world-changing technology is a critical element for any company starting out and groups like Hack Night Bend fill that need.”
For up to date Hack Night Bend meeting information visit the meet up website: www.meetup.com/hack-night-bend.