MIT Creates Light-Sensitive ‘Reprogrammable’ Ink



You probably had to agonize over colors the last time you bought a car, a pair of shoes, or anything else where color matters. What if you didn’t have to pick a single color, though? Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new color-changing ink that you can “reprogram” with light to produce different colors and patterns. Best of all, you can change the colors as many times as you want. 

MIT calls this “PhotoChromeleon” ink, and it’s a mix of multiple polychromatic dyes that can be spray-painted on almost any object. The team started by mixing standard automotive lacquer with cyan, yellow, and magenta polychromatic dyes. Each individual dye changes color when exposed to UV light. 

When you mix all three dyes together, you have a paint that can produce a wide range of colors. By understanding how each dye reacts to light, the researchers are able to precisely control each color channel. It’s similar to the way a modern inkjet printer uses individual cartridges of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink to create almost any shade you want. 

The team tested the programmable ink on various objects like a show, a phone case, and a (quite fittingly) a toy chameleon. The video below demonstrates how the clear ink becomes DLP projector shines high-intensity light onto the object’s surface as it spins on a turntable. However, it does take a few hours to create a pattern on small objects in the lab. The result is a colorized layer that looks like it was painted on. It was in a sense, but you can change the paint job whenever you want. 

This system is an evolution of ColorMod, a previous MIT experiment that used a 3D printer to create objects that could change color. In that case, the printer had to create each “pixel,” so the resulting patterns weren’t very clear. PhotoChromeleon produces crisp images, and you can quickly “reset” the ink with an ultraviolet light. 

MIT believes PhotoChromeleon technology could eventually make manufacturing more efficient and reduce waste. Imagine that you didn’t need to get two different pairs of shoes in different colors. You could just reset the color and change it to something else whenever you want. Bored with your phone case? Don’t buy a new one, just change the pattern with light. MIT is already working with Ford to advance the PhotoChromeleon project, which also supported the development of ColorMod.

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What top enterprise VCs are thinking, using data effectively, ethics, Light, and Flipkart – gpgmail


Top VCs on the changing landscape for enterprise startups

gpgmail had our debut confab for enterprise types this week at Yerba Buena Center in SF, where we heard from Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, Apple VP Susan Prescott of Apple, and Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich. We were sold out, which perhaps isn’t all that surprising given the amount of interest in enterprise these days. Expect more events to come.

Our Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos hosted a panel with leading enterprise VCs, and she selected the most interesting points from that conversation and from her calls with them for Extra Crunch members. Hear a bit from Jason Green of Emergence Capital, Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures and Maha Ibrahim of Canaan Partners and what they are investing in these days.

And if you want to hear even more from Jason Green and yours truly, head over to gpgmail’s VC podcast Equity, where we shot live from Yerba Buena along with host Kate Clark with a special focus on enterprise startups.

Maha Ibrahim: I feel like people are focusing too much on metrics and not as much on [the total addressable market]. We make money [when a startup strikes on a] huge, huge market.

But there’s [also] so much correlation between consumer and enterprise startups in that we want customers that love the product. We want customers that come back and come back and come back to us, without us having to pay for them to come back. So the equivalent in a consumer company would be me having to spend advertising dollars to acquire that customer again, as opposed to that customer just coming back because he or she loves what I’m doing. The same goes for the enterprise.

How early-stage startups can use data effectively

Silicon Valley may be obsessed with using data to improve startup outcomes, but the reality is quite a bit more nuanced. Koen Bok, co-founder of interactive design tool Framer, has put together an extensive guide here on how to to use data — and when not to.


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Light Phone’s founders discuss life beyond the smartphone – gpgmail


For a seemingly tough pitch, Light has had little trouble getting noticed. The company has run two successful crowdfunding campaigns for a pair of minimalist phones designed to augment or replace the smartphone. Today the startup announced that it will be shipping the second version of the handset, which introduces a handful of features back into the product, like texting.

Ahead of the launch, we spoke to Light’s founders, Kaiwei Tang and Joe Hollier, about funding, feature glut and the future of the handset.

How it all began

Brian Heater: The project essentially started as an in-house at Google, is that correct?

Kaiwei Tang: We met in 2014 in Google’s incubator called 30 Weeks. That’s where we met and started talking about Light Phone eventually.

Joe Hollier: 30 Weeks program was an experiment that came out of the Google creative lab, and their hypothesis was that if given the right resources, guidance, designers might be able to create new creative startups, and that designers should be on the founding table of companies.

So their hypothesis was that we as designers would be able to imagine a new going to startup in the software application space, and then through designing the end product, which is how the Google creative lab works, we’d be able to inspire the engineers and make the funding investors that we would need to make the product a reality.

Brian: What did you see in the market that wasn’t being fulfilled by countless different smartphone companies?

Joe: People were feeling overwhelmed by their smartphone and craving some escape, and we didn’t really see an escape.


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