Our First Customers

Pictures of the good people at SIGGRAPH

SIGGRAPH presented us the opportunity to find our first loyal customers. They are artists, designers, corporate executives and academics. Thank you all very much for your enthusiastic support at the conference, for your beautiful designs and great suggestions.

The rest of the images: (more…)

Integrating & Differentiating

How it all started

Back in the Spring of 2007 I stumbled upon a little guide, explaining how to make latte art I got very curious and searched around for more images online, discovering beautiful artwork created by baristas from around the world. Each one is a masterpiece; each one is beautiful; some use chocolate; some use stencils; some are just pouring techniques with simple hearts and olive branches; some are sophisticated drawings of lions.

So I started thinking about how to do it from the engineering standpoint. Is it possible to try and build a machine that does Latte Art?

And so started my engineering adventure: the build up of the Latte Art machine.
Right away I ordered up components, and since I was not sure which technology would work for me, I ordered an old plotter that can hold up any pouring device in order to spray the medium of my choice. I also ordered a sample inkjet development kit that provided detailed information about how cartridges work, and a small circuit board that allowed some printing functionality by direct control of the cartridges. I modified the firmware of the microprocessor on the kit to spray from one nozzle only, and machined the extension arm for the cartridge so that I can wave it around over the cup.

And so, after some development work, the first x-y inkjet plotter was built. It could print vector graphics on the paper next to the plotter with the regular inkjet ink. Right away I tested how close the paper had to be – and to my surprise an image placed almost 1 inch away from the cartridge was clearly visible. That was good news – an irregular latte foam does not have to be perfectly flat.

I went ahead and ordered some brown food coloring, composed of FC ink mixture, replacing the ink in the cartridge. I went off to Starbucks and ordered a tall latte – ran back to try the design for the first time, and sure enough, it worked. I did not have a camera to take a picture of it – but I remember the sense of enlightening – I was very proud for several long minutes. And then I went back to work on it and improve it further: replacing some of the electronics, mechanics, etc.

Soon, my colleagues realized that there was something very interesting going on in my office: they came in and took a video of my latte art machine. And so it was, we were online for the first time.