About a month ago, I was in Columbus, Ohio to see 3D technologies come together in a community-driven project that showcased local brewmasters in the Tap Takeover event spearheaded by Knockout Concepts. The 3D scanning software company turned to nearby IC3D for 3D printing capabilities as well as local artist Kendric Tonn to paint the beer taps that featured the 3D printed likenesses of 20 brewmasters who had been 3D scanned. While the craft beer-focused event provided a fun project, and a great gathering of the local tech, artistic, and hoppy community, it was also an excellent introduction to all that Knockout Concepts does have to offer.
On my recent follow-up trip to Columbus, I had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon Gell, Knockout Concepts’ Special Projects Manager, to catch up. We met at local must-stop North Market for lunch, enjoying a rare day of sunshine and warmth in the usually freezing Ohio February. Gell filled me in on the company’s history, as well as a road map for where they’ll be heading next.
“We’re dubbing ourselves as the human-centered scanning and design company,” Gell told me of the company’s focus as they have continued to grow and refine operations.
Founded in 2013, Knockout Concepts began as an almost ahead-of-its-time concept as now-CEO S. Brooks Myers came up with an idea for mobile 3D scanning and filed IP on it, joining forces with COO Jacob (Jake) Kuttothara, MD, to get the idea off the ground. The pair were at this point driving innovation in a field that hadn’t quite laid all the groundwork necessary, as tablets couldn’t yet handle 3D scanners. While tablets using 3D scanners are now almost old news, at the point of Knockout Concepts’ inception it was necessary for additional innovation — and so Myers and Kuttothara built their own tablets, from scratch, to run a 3D scanner.
Seen at Maker Faire Detroit in 2013, the tablets developed by the nascent Knockout Concepts went through three or four prototypes put together by a team that included a mechanical engineer, a fellow with a doctorate in algorithms, and a team of coders. In the years since, Gell noted, technology has caught up; Knockout Concepts does offer its KS1 scanner, but also uses off-the-shelf tablets and scanners and is fully focusing its attention on software.
“Since then, obviously, hardware has caught up with us and now we focus almost entirely on 3D scanning software, specifically 3D scanning software for human centered design,” Gell explained. “We give people a tool to customize the things on their bodies, and the things they interact with, to fit them perfectly. In addition to selling the KS1 Scanner, we work with vertical markets to customize 3D scanning software for their needs.”
These days, the company is taking a human-centered approach to technology, working on “customization of anything that goes on the human body” with targeted 3D scanning capabilities that zero in on human individuality. “Average people still don’t know what to do with 3D printing and 3D scanning,” he noted, expanding on the company’s philosophy of spreading the good word of 3D technologies. They are looking to educate people about what technology can be used for, Gell told me, and positioning the company to be the go-to for projects using such technologies as Google Tango, among other consumer-targeted tech.
Further showing the usefulness of what they do, Gell is among those using the company’s offerings in regular projects. The morning we talked, Gell had spent a bit of time 3D scanning some exposed pipes in order to design a perfectly custom fitted shelf to fit between the pipes without need for nails or other tools to install.
“Knockout has one goal in mind: change the way individuals and corporations interact with the 3D world. We’re leading the custom revolution, from personalized software to custom fit prosthetics and equipment. We have your back from start to finish, from idea to execution, from scan to final product,” the company notes of their mission. “We build 3D Software, lead custom projects in the physical world, and support movers and shakers looking to integrate 3D scanning into a workflow. Our proprietary algorithms power the fastest and highest resolution Mobile 3D Scans available to date.”
By taking a human-centered approach to 3D scanning technology, Knockout Concepts embraces both technology and the people behind it. 3D scanning of the human form can lead to any number of useful applications, as we’ve seen through such varied uses as virtual clothes fitting and video game avatars. Knockout Concepts is additionally continuing to look within its local community, highlighting the localization possible with 3D technologies as projects for preservation (“the PAST Foundation has two of our scanners”), science (including at COSI), and more are in the works — or at least in the very early stages of planning.
“We have some exciting things coming up in 2017,” Gell told me. “The gist of it all is human-centered.”
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