Several months ago we received an e-mail from someone who’d been given a Little Printer. They weren’t expecting it, were having a little trouble getting things set up, and wondered if we could help out. It turned out they were only down the road, so we popped round and got everything up and running. It was one of the best things we ever did.
Why? Because it turned out to be the offices of the people who look after Mr Men & Little Miss. And so we told them how brilliant it would be if there could be a Little Printer publication for Little Miss Sunshine, Mr Happy, and all their friends from Nonsenseland. Because if you grew up in the 1970s, or 1980s, or 1990s, or 2000s, it’s a big deal, right? Plus, everyone loves them. Plus, they’d work really well as a Little Printer publication. And they agreed! They even said some nice things about us.
“It seemed like a natural step for us to see the Mr Men and Little Misses on Little Printer, it’s such a smart device! We hope that having Mr Tickle and friends available at the press of a button will excite and please Little Printer users as much as it does us.”
So a huge thanks to the Mr Men & Little Miss people. We’re similarly excited, and are delighted that Little Printer owners can now subscribe to the finished publication.
It’s not the only new publication. Less than two weeks ago we were talking about the the new Penguin Classics publication, and we’ve sent another ten live since then. Apart from from Mr Men & Little Miss (did we mention them yet?!?), we’ve also added these:
* Little Advent Calendar — seasonal good will via the medium of festive fun facts, brought to you by the clever folk at exciting.io.
* Simple Sudoku — a fifth contribution from John Alexander, who’s rapidly becoming the King of Little Printer puzzle publications.
* No Context — a daily dose of “hilarity and obscenity from /r/nocontext“. Put together by Alex Forey, another regular member of the community of Little Printer Publication Developers.
* Shakespeare’s Tempest — back in 1893, artist Walter Crane produced a series of illustrations to accompany Shakespeare’s Tempest. 120 years later, those very drawings are available as a Little Printer publication. We think the Bard himself would be delighted.
* Crimer Show — experience the amazing badly-spelt detective series from the beginning, every weekday via your Little Printer. All content from @CrimerShow; lovingly assembled by exciting_io.
* Little Commits — more good work from Alex Forey, who’s used our Push API to make a publication that prints out a notification every time someone pushes to your GitHub repositories. It’s a great use of the API, which allows content to be delivered to Little Printer immediately, rather than to a schedule set by the owner.
* Henry Bursill’s Hand Shadows — fire up your child’s imagination by introducing them to the magical world of shadow puppetry. Images taken from the 1859 book Hand Shadows To Be Thrown Upon The Wall by Henry Bursill. Bonus fact: Bursill was also responsible for several of the stone statues that adorn Holborn Viaduct in London.
* Asana Tasks — companies like Dropbox and Pinterest use Asana to manage teams and tasks, and Chris Aves has made a publication that prints all Due and Overdue Asana tasks, looking 10 days ahead. Very useful.
* The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents — is this the oldest material to appear on Little Printer? We think so, as it comes from a 1658 book compiled by English clergyman Edward Topsell. Rather interestingly, Topsell believed that weasels give birth through their ears.
Thanks very much to everyone who contributed these. We really appreciate your hard work!
Inspired to make a Publication of your own? Try out the developer instructions and tools, or download our easy-to-configure mini-series files from GitHub (note: requires no knowledge of GitHub whatsoever!)
A few weeks ago, amidst much great excitement at BERG HQ, we launched a new publication for Little Printer. We do this all the time, of course, but this one was a little bit special. Not only did it come from one of the most recognisable names in book publishing, Penguin Classics, but it featured 365 daily quotes from a quite extraordinary array of authors. As lists go, it takes some beating.
William Shakespeare? Check. James Joyce? Check. Kafka? Keats? Kerouac? Kipling? All check. Charlotte Brontë? Yes, she’s here, and so’s Emily. The list goes on and on and on. Anne Frank. John Updike. F. Scott Fitzgerald. H.G. Wells. Mary Shelley. George Bernard Shaw. Winston Churchill. Lots of people so renowned that a surname is enough: Marx. Dickens. Darwin. Nietzsche. Woolf. Sontag. Wordsworth. Pepys. Twain. It’s really something.
And it’s brilliant that someone like Penguin should be attracted to Little Printer as a way of reaching new readers — each edition of the publication features a unique QR Code, so that subscribers can quickly find out more about the books in question… and buy them!
So we asked the nice people at Penguin for their thoughts. They said:
We’re thrilled to see classic literary quotes going out on a daily basis to Little Printer owners. It’s lovely to see so many Penguin Classics reaching a new audience, and it’s a great way for people to enjoy quotes from their favourite reads. So, in the immortal words of Jane Austen (sort of), “It is a truth universally acknowledged that every [reader] in possession of a [Little Printer] must be in want of a [daily Penguin quote].”
So there you go. A perfect reason to subscribe: because Jane Austen says so.
Jack and I started our company because we had fun hanging out; because design and technology working hand-in-glove create magical things; to invent culture.
Over time that company became BERG, and it wasn’t just ours anymore — it became a studio of many people, and it’s produced awesome work there’s no way in a million years I could have even imagined.
Right from the beginning we’ve been into connected devices. Products feel different when they come to life. And we made our own product, Little Printer – an incredible team effort – and it’s a particular joy to me to see how people invite Little Printer into their homes and how they use it. We’ve learnt so much, and been continuously iterating the product since it launched.
I like to say that we don’t have customers, we have an audience.
Connected devices are so different.
So all our design thinking and learnings are baked into the technology underpinning Little Printer, and we call that technology BERG Cloud. BERG Cloud is our platform for connected devices — it gives devices an identity on the internet, web APIs, and adds developer tools and a great user experience. Using custom-designed hardware, we’ve also made our own prototyping stack. This allows us to prototype on Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and ARM mbed, but quickly switch to developing websites rather than embedded software so we can iterate quicker.
The way I think of BERG Cloud is that it’s best of our design thinking, baked into a platform created by our engineers so that our designers can be as expressive and inventive as possible.
Recently we had a realisation: If BERG Cloud and the prototyping hardware was good for us – this neat collaboration platform for our engineers and designers – maybe other people would like it too. And maybe they would like to take their products to market on our platform, using the same tested tools as we created and use for Little Printer.
Maybe we could make developing hardware as easy as developing for the web — and as fluid and creative.
But that would take focus.
It’s going to be hard reigning back our consultancy business to focus on building BERG Cloud and getting it into as many hands as possible. I’ve loved our work with Bonnier and the BBC, with Google and Intel and Samsung and so many others, and we hope we can carry some of these relationships forward on our journey into connected products.
Then I look again at where BERG began, why Jack and I started this thing rolling. We’ve not changed so much.
There’s an incredible team. I love being in the room with these guys.
We’ve created a platform that allows design and technology to work together, to be as creative as possible.
And rather than work solely with clients, we get to work with customers, to help others invent culture. So we’re looking to advance this exciting space as a Community, and in partnership with manufacturers.
To help along our focusing, we’ve made some business changes. We’re moving our home on the web — our old consultancy-focused website has been archived, and you’ll now find BERG at our new permanent home at the website of its platform, right here at bergcloud.com.
And we’ve brought more folks into the mix, people who can help us scale BERG Cloud and take it to its full potential. I’m proud that we’re today announcing investment from Connect Ventures, Initial Capital, and Index Ventures. It’s funny the convention is to write company names like that… Actually these are personal relationships, and Bill, Sami, and Saul are part of the team.
So that’s today’s news! Design consultancy turns tech startup, takes funding. And BERG Cloud – which we’ve incubated ourselves and have been beta testing over the summer – is now on general release. Kits for prototyping will land in our shop on Thursday 31st October, available for everyone.
I can’t wait to see what happens.
People often stop us in the street and ask if they can send e-mails to Little Printer for immediate printing. “Hey, BERG Cloud!”, they’ll say. “Can I send e-mails to Little Printer for immediate printing?”.
The answer, of course, is yes.
Here’s an example of how you might use e-mail with your Little Printer. Throughout the week, you build a shopping list for the weekend’s trip to the supermarket. Instead of scribbling things down on that bit of paper on the kitchen table (difficult when you’re at work), you write your list in an e-mail. Save it to drafts, and it’s there on all your devices, waiting to be added to. Then, when you’re ready to head to the shops, you send it to your Little Printer’s e-mail address, and it’s printed. Tear it off, and you’ll have the coolest, most thermally-printed shopping list in the entire mall.
So how does this work? Well, this feature isn’t built into Remote. And it’s not as straightforward as we’ve just made it sound. You’ll need to set up an e-mail address for your Little Printer, and you’ll need to create an app and figure out some variables and do some configuration. But if you know how to do this kind of thing, you’ll only need about 20 minutes. Because, thankfully, Basil Safwat has written all the code you need. Thanks, Basil!
Here’s one of Basil’s e-mails.
But wait! Doesn’t Little Printer already have a built-in messaging service?
Well, yes. It’s built into Remote, and there’s no coding or variables or configuration to think about. Like someone else once said, it just works.
You can send bespoke messages to Little Printer for immediate printing using a number of different styles. We really like the one above because it’s visible from across the room, but the others are pretty neat, too.
And, of course, you can send pictures.
Messages sent to Little Printer aren’t just for other people to read. We find that many Little Printer owners are sending messages to themselves — from shopping lists to reminders and todos — as the physical, disruptive nature of the prints means they don’t get lost in the digital fog of e-mail and social media.
And just in case you’re wondering, that tea really was awful.
We don’t have a favourite Little Printer owner. As far as we’re concerned, they’re all universally lovely folk with incredibly good taste in web-connected devices.
If we did have a favourite Little Printer owner, however, it might well be Vincent Bidaux.
Vincent is an application and web system designer who works at Pôle Nord Studio in Paris. He also takes photos and makes films, and in his spare time he does magical things with Little Printer. Like this:
But it’s not just art that Vincent produces. What about an iPhone case display you can change every day? (It turns out that Little Printer prints are exactly the right width to do this with an iPhone 5 and a transparent case).
Ever thought of using the prints for office work-tray labelling?
This is one we didn’t see coming: maps for mopeds. It probably isn’t the ideal solution for long, complicated journeys, but it’s certainly cheaper and prettier than sat-nav.
When he’s not coming up with new uses for Little Printer prints, Vincent is testing what Little Printer is capable of. Like these prints, which use the Manga Camera app for iOS.
Vincent’s sister writes a comic called 130 Cartons. Which, of course, he’s tested with Little Printer.
It looks like Vincent’s office is being taken over!
So what’s next? Well, Vincent is currently working on an Android app. After designing the various pages using Sketch, he prints them out using Little Printer. Now, when he has meetings, attendees can play with the prints to simulate and define workflows for the app. Amazing.
We’re aware that ‘awesome’ is a much over-used word, but this really is awesome. And Vincent is doing all of this just using Photoshop, Little Printer’s regular messaging service, and David Wilkinson’s Little Image Printer app!
You can see more photos of Vincent’s work on his Google+ page.
— (Works)Shop (@Works_Shop) September 19, 2013
Our @LittlePrinter is morphing into me!
— Lizzie Gold (@SquirrelLizzie) September 20, 2013
— Rev Dan Catt (@revdancatt) September 20, 2013
— Hannah Chadwick (@silent_bobina) September 21, 2013
This is new. It’s the Chronodex publication for Little Printer.
The Chronodex Visual Scheduler (and the Chronodex publication) was created by Patrick NG. It’s a way of representing time in a way that doesn’t conform to the normal, inflexible grid structure. Instead, every day is presented like a flower, with each chunk of time depicted by a petal-like slice. It’s rather beautiful, and has developed something of an enthusiastic following across the globe. There’s a Facebook Group, of course, and a Flickr Pool.
People have done some really awesome things using Chronodex. An embryologist traveling on his motorcycle with wife and three French bulldogs used it to plan his trips. One dyslexic user modified the system after finding it useful. Linda from Korea and Chan from Taiwan made rubber stamp versions. It’s been adapted for Filofax and prompted instructional videos. The Russians made a 3D graphical version, while the Australians took the idea and modified it into something called the Spiraldex.
And now it’s a Little Printer publication.
We asked Patrick what he thought about Little Printer, and why he created the publication. He writes:
“Little Printer offers tiny pleasures, delivered to you bit-by-bit, non-intrusively. These small chunks of fun and occasional cuteness (like the haircut thing) makes a big difference to our modern lives, in a somewhat analogue way. It’s a connected device, yet it’s paper based… and aren’t we still fascinated by things like ticker tape machines, and ambient devices which take bits of information like signals and rss feeds and translate them into something you can touch, see and feel? The best thing about Little Printer is that I get to carry the printout with me and enjoy something analogue during my commute. It really is a conversation starter!
“The Chronodex publication gives you the chance to look at things differently. It’s a slip of paper you carry. You can lose it, you can put your shopping list on it, you can specify a casual timeslot for thinking, you can write down ideas while travelling, you can even use it as a meeting reminder and stick it on your colleague’s monitor. I believe writing down something and having fun at the same time helps creativity a lot!”
It also looks really, really nice.
People have been writing lots of things about Little Printer recently. An unusual product, we know what we think about it, but it’s great to hear what you think and to see what you’re using it for as we continue to test and improve (see pic, below). It’s exciting releasing a new product into the world, but nothing beats seeing that product in use — and nothing helps plan and prioritise new features quite like a peek into other people’s lives.
With several parents in the studio, we’re always interested to see how children react to Little Printer, so this is a nice post to start us off:
“Talk about a major win. I’m a big believer in children learning by osmosis, learning while having fun – and this little printer is doing a truly sterling job”
Author Danie Ware, on the educational potential of Little Printer. Thanks Danie!
There are two ex-moo.com employees on the BERG Cloud team too, so the future of print is still on our minds…
“With the printer industry seemingly on the floor, this little fella may help reinvigorate our appetite for the printed word or picture”
Web-builders Deeson Online, who’ve been carrying out experiments with their Little Printer.
It’s also great to hear that Little Printer is helping businesses too…
“…will it give us new ways to bring a smile to our clients faces? Hell, yeah!”
From Melbourne-based agency Hard Hat Digital, who created a Hunk Of The Day publication when their Little Printer arrived in Australia. It uses an API to glean information from members of Reddit’s 100,000-strong Ladyboners community. Cripes.
Other posts that made us smile include:
“Little Printer, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”
Taken from an amusing post from Jim Lyons, who’s done a side-by-side comparison between Little Printer and Google Glass. Well, sort of.
“Beneath the simplicity and charm, there’s sophistication”
Taken from an article in Architects Journal (subscription required), which talks about BERG’s approach to design.
Some of our favourite posts are from people who simply describe what it’s like living with Little Printer. We like Julie’s post, in which she reveals that her Little Printer, Desmond, was named in tribute to Desmond Hume, a character from the TV series Lost, played by Henry Cusick.
Finally, there are the posts that talk about doing stuff with Little Printer:
“But in a responsive, strategic, social media age it’s just jolly good fun to work in a format that’s black and white, 384-pixels wide and can be folded up and put in your wallet”
Steph Gray, who’s developed the Her Majesty Announces publication for Little Printer, which delivers daily news from UK Parliament.
David Somers has written a very useful guide to making Little Printer publications, which goes into all sorts of thoughtful detail, while Iain Farrell, who recently contributed publications related to MotoGP and Formula 1 (thanks, Iain!) writes about his experience making them.
From now until Christmas, Little Printer will be available to purchase from a pop-up shop in East London. You can pick one up (save £8 — there’s no shipping charges!) and take it home immediately.
The (Works)Shop is open on Fridays and Saturdays between 2pm and 7pm, and is found at Suite 3 of Shoreditch Works, 32–38 Scrutton Street, EC2A 4RQ. It’s open for business from today.
Little Printer will be joined in the shop by some other things we’re fans of, including the Good Night Lamp, MakieLab’s Makie Dolls, the HomeMonitor Camera, and some cupcakes. Little Printer likes this particular one.
The idea behind the project is to “sell, discuss and showcase the latest consumer products that don’t quite fit in current retail classification”, like the Good Night Lamp family of connected lamps (below). The discussion element is important to the shop’s curators, as is the promotion of local business — many of the items on show originate from a few small blocks in the surrounding area.
Below, a picture of the shop. And if you’re thinking, “wait a minute… this looks like someone’s office!”, well, that’s because it is. That’s the nature of pop-ups, popping up where you least expect.
And don’t forget: it’s only 123 shopping days until Christmas!
One of the most popular exhibits was a device called The Sketchbot, which you could interact with without even leaving the house. You’d sit at your desk, take a self-portrait on your webcam, and submit it. The image would be sent off to a series of robotic arms in the exhibition space, which would draw this self-portrait in a layer of sand. You could watch the whole process unfold online, and the results could be shared on the web.
We know! Robot arms! Crazy!
So why is this of interest to those interested in Little Printer? Well, a couple of the most popular projects, including the Sketchbot, have been open-sourced by Tellart. And if you don’t own a workshop filled with expensive milling machines and aren’t skilled in the art of robot arm building, the clever folk at Chrome have created a software version that works with Little Printer. If you’re comfortable with code, you can run this on your computer, take a photo with your webcam, and have the results printed out by Little Printer in precisely the same style as the hardware version used when drawing in sand.
Because the Sketchbot recreates the source image using outlines, it works really well with Little Printer (which, of course, prints in black and white).