Print your own phone case… Wait, WHAT?!

Seriously, welcome to the future…

The Lumia 820: coming soon to a 3D printer near you

Yesterday, news landed in my inbox that Nokia were going to not only announce the availability of 3D-printed cases for the Lumia 820 but also – and here’s the killer – release the printing files for said cases too.

That’s. Just. Awesome.


Let’s review.

The Lumia 820 is Nokia’s next best flagship Windows Phone 8 device after the Lumia 920. One key point of difference between the two is that the former has, like old-skool Nokias of the past, a hot-swappable back cover; allowing 820-owners to personalise their devices to the colour of their choosing. Well, from the available range (above) at least anyway…

That last part – the limited choice – all changed yesterday.

With the introduction of (and then the public releasing of the files for), 3D printed covers anyone with a 3D printer can create their own Lumia 820 back cover.

Yesterday was stacked and I’ve only now got the time to write this up. Since the announcement, the news has appeared everywhere; from Wired through to the BBC. However – leading Indian mobile tech blog, Unleash the Phones, managed to get the scoop on them all by laying their hands on the first images of what these 3D printed covers look like –

Lumia 820 3D-printed cover

Snug fit!

These were made, in about an hour, with Makerbot. Amazing.

Yes, the technology is expensive. But so were 2D printers when they first launched. With today’s yesterday’s announcement Nokia have given us a glimpse of the future and, dare I say it, earned [back] a whole lot of geek/cool points in doing so.

Good job.


Here’s the news from Nokia’s blog,
(including said files!)

Releasing the 3D printing files for Lumia 920:

Nokia’s 3D printing community project is a simple concept with exciting potential. Our Lumia 820 has a removable shell that users can replace with Nokia-made shells in different colors, special ruggedized shells with extra shock and dust protection, and shells that add wireless charging capabilities found in the high-end Lumia 920 to the mid-range 820. Those are fantastic cases, and a great option for the vast majority of Nokia’s Lumia 820 customers. But in addition to that, we are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices—everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case. We refer to these files and documents collectively as a 3D-printing Development Kit, or 3DK for short.

The links to the files needed are here, here and here.

In doing this, Nokia has become the first major phone company to begin embracing the 3D printing community and its incredible potential, and continue to be the leading phone company in this exciting field.

[We] view this as the spiritual successor to the great granddaddy of customizable phones, the Nokia 5110 and its rainbow collection of removable faceplates. To think, it’s been 15 years since the 5110 launched! 


At this point, one would normally write something like: ‘So, what do you think? Do you have a 3D printer? Will you be trying this out? Have Nokia done the right thing?’ – to help stimulate conversation in the comments etc..

But no. Not today. Instead I’m going to say this:


Thanks, you’re awesome.



This one nearly passed me by earlier this week

The biggest military fundraising drive seen in London will aim to raise £1 million in a day for the annual poppy appeal tomorrow. Some 2,000 serving and former members of the armed forces will target 130 of the City’s biggest financial institutions and 70 Tube stations.
Barclaycard has lent 400 hand-held terminals so donations can be made by contactless transactions. Company bosses will be asked to match the amount donated by their staff.

That last part, the part where I’ve added emphasis is fantastic.

I’ve been tinkering with the idea of NFC/RFID donation points a good couple of years now. Ever since my first bootcamp at Marketing Academy, when quite a large charity (the name of which escapes me now, maybe it was the NSPCC) gave a talk about how it goes about fundraising the hurdles and barriers that it comes across in doing so.

My theory goes:

In an age when, in London especially, citizens are being actively encouraged to carry less cash (see: oystercards for travel and chip and pin / NFC card payments being made available everywhere), what is knock-on economical affect on those that need our small change most: our charities and our homeless?

To the former (and in fact I’m fairly sure I raised my hand and asked this question back in May 2010), you ask –

‘Why don’t we solved by equipping charity tin shakers with NFC touch points?’

From a personal perspective I HATE walking past tin-shakers on the street and on the Underground when I have no change. That whole guilt thing? I know I have the money to give I just don’t have the money on me right now. And when I do, it’ll probably be spent on chewing gum later before I see you again. ‘So, why not enable this technology?’, I asked the man from the NSPCC.

‘It’s not worth it.’ he replied.

Charities make more money with their direct mail drives asking potential givers for a simple £2 per month than they do during a whole year of tin shaking. It’s simply not worth their investment. This makes sense. Why bother throwing money at something which isn’t a fundraiser? My argument to that is, maybe it isn’t a fundraiser because you’re not allowing your tin-shakers to raise funds with technology! It was a frustrating exchange…

Anyway, look. The good news is, for the poppy appeal at least, the investment has been made. Barclaycard, in a nice bit of CSR-based PR, have stepped up and done it for you.

I’m yet to see one of these machines ‘in the wild’ yet, but I’m looking forward to tapping and giving when I do. I also really hope that when this year’s poppy appeal comes to a close, that Barclaycard release some numbers on how much was given using this method.

That would make some really interesting reading.


Ps. Get a poppy.

Additional reading: homeless hotspots (another tech-driven fundraiser)

Me and my friends

a parable for the ambitious

I’ve been thinking about the future a lot of late. Not about flying cars or memory implants and what not, more along the lines of having an actual plan.

2011 has nearly come and gone and the blank canvas I stared upon at the crest of the year is once again gushing towards me like a second, more powerful, ocean wave rearing its head up and over the naked shore.

Advice is sought, advice is given and sometimes, in the most surprising places, advice is discovered. Over the past six to eight months or so, the same piece of counsel has been recurring time and time again from a myriad of different vessels.

If I don’t do something about it soon, I fear I will drown in the flood.
“It’s like the old joke…”

It had been raining for days and days, and a terrible flood had come over the land. The waters rose so high that one man was forced to climb onto the roof of his house.

As the waters rose higher and higher, a man in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in.

“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the man in the rowboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.

The waters rose higher and higher, and suddenly a speedboat appeared. “Climb in!” shouted a man in the boat.

“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the man in the speedboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.

The waters continued to rise. A helicopter appeared and over the loudspeaker, the pilot announced he would lower a rope to the man on the roof.

“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the helicopter went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.

The waters rose higher and higher, and eventually they rose so high that the man on the roof was washed away, and alas, the poor man drowned.

Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched straight over to God.

“Heavenly Father,” he said, “I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?”

God gave him a puzzled look, and replied “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

Have faith.
Listen to those around you.
Defend ideas.
Be smarter.

But most of all: have a plan.

Whatley out.

Kinect me up, baby

Recently, I decided to treat myself to the technological wonder that is the Xbox Kinect. But, before we crack on, let me make one thing absolutely clear –

The Xbox Kinect is, without doubt, the most exciting piece of technology I have ever brought into my house (by a clear country mile) and, quite possibly, the most amazing thing I have ever bought. Ever. Full stop.

It really is that good.

What’s worrying, however, is that for a short while I didn’t even realise it.

Xbox Kinect

Returning from my parents this past Christmas (I believe it was Dec 27th), I stopped off in town to pick up the Johnny-5 head-shaped bad boy and left him by the TV for a couple of days, before breaking it open just before New Year and cracking on.

“This’ll be fun” I thought “I’ll give it a whirl”

See, as you may know, I am a gaming geek (some would argue more so than a mobile geek), and so getting my hands on the latest awesome periphery for my current console of choice was fairly high up on my list of priorities.

“Gaming is going be awesome with this…”

Honestly? It’s been over a month now and I’ve hardly played the games at all. Don’t get me wrong, Kinect Adventures IS fun and I’m informed that the yet-to-be-opened Dance Central is pretty damn good also. However, the Kinect has changed something so significant, so utterly mind-blowing that most of the time, I switch it on just so I can play with IT.


It’s all about the interface. Things that live on my Xbox (aside from the games) include (but are not exclusive to), Sky TV, Twitter, Facebook and – thanks to a handy piece of software called Connect360 (no relation) – my entire music, photo and video collection that resides on my Mac.

[Nearly] everything is available to Kinect with… and it rocks.

Introducing such a fundamental step-change into the way I interact with my main media channel has, perhaps unsurprisingly to some, drastically shifted my usage patterns along with it., formally an Xbox Gold ‘nice to have’ extra that I only used on occasion is now the main reason for switching the Xbox on in the morning/afternoon/evening…

Forget the wavey-roundy, gesture sensitive motion capture stuff (although that’s quite cool also) the Kinect, for me at least, is all about the voice activation.

Let me show you:

I can be in the shower in the next room and be yelling out my instructions AND IT STILL HEARS ME! Music, is everything…

In the same way that nobody knew they needed an iPad (and yet now suddenly they now wonder how they ever did without them), the Xbox Kinect slips into your day to day life like the smoothest of gloves onto a well-worn hand. Within a couple of days you catch yourself wondering why on Earth everything in your household doesn’t run in the same way.

“Kettle? Boil.” or “Shower? On.” and of course, Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. are suddenly so desperately close to hand but also, in the same breath, achingly far away. The Xbox Kinect really is the technology of the future boys and girls and believe it when I tell you; we’ve not even scratched the surface.

Microsoft have already said that they expect to double the resolution of the on-board camera within the next 6-12mths and the face tracking technology they demo’d at CES recently was again, an equally fascinating glimpse into the very near future.

Maybe it’s the hours upon hours that we spent back in my SpinVox days talking about the future of speech technologies that has got me so excited about all this, maybe it’s because at heart, I’m a massive Star Trek fan and being able to talk to my computer is a pipe dream I’ve lusted after ever since I first saw Jean-Luc do the exact same thing all those years ago… or maybe, just maybe it’s just because that deep down, I am a geek – through and through – and I just love new technology.

In closing:

Got an Xbox? Get a Kinect. It’s that simple.

The question is, who’s she talking to?

YouTube - Chaplins Time Traveler

This has hit me twice on Google Reader this morning, shared from two different people quoting two different sources, both of which refer to the same video that’s embedded below.

Basically, on the extras disc on Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film ‘The Circus‘, there’s some footage from the premiere which clearly* shows a person of some description yabbering away on their mobile phone.

Yes, that’s right, their mobile phone…. in 1928!

George Clarke, the chap who discovered this finding, is desperately searching for some kind of explanation because, at the moment, all he can surmise is that this woman** is a massive Chaplin fan from the future who fancied spending her holidays in 1928.

I’m certain there’s a reasonable explanation for this, besides the fact that you would hope that by the time time travel is possible, we’d have advanced mobile technology so far that holding it up to our ears would be a thing of the past?! No?

Take a look for yourself, the final bit where she turns at glances up while still talking is the thing that got me.

*about as clear as anything can be in old non-HD black & white
**is it a woman? George raises the issue of her apparent manliness and her overly large feet – perhaps in the future we’ll all be dressed in drag?

What do you think?!

Living in the future

It was my birthday last weekend and, as quite possibly the best birthday present I’ve ever been given, my girlfriend sprung two tickets to Paris this weekend.

Doors - Kube Hotel

However, not content with taking me to the most romantic city in the world, seeing the sights, taking in the museums and generally doing ‘the tourist thing’ – my lady also decided to check us into the coolest hotel I have ever seen.

Don’t believe me?

The future is here. The future is now. The future is Omar Sharif.