Hologen — a tale of startup cannibalism

Scientific Humanities, LLC, is dead, leaving me a captain without a ship.

The concept — creating 3D interactives to teach scientific concepts, had its trials at UC Berkeley, CERN, SETI. We built robotics prototypes for amputees. Government institutions, however, were hard to prone due to the bifecta of being poorly funded and highly bureaucratic. The former we could relate too, but when you’ve written over 50 pages of project documents, and are expected to write 50 more, you may start to have doubts whether the modus operandi designed to launch rockets is applicable to startups.

So, we pivoted and created OrigaMIDI, an AR MIDI Controller. To this day, it was the best project I’ve ever done. We were at the Augmented World Expo, designed for the Wearables Fashion Show, did talks at Microsoft, Ableton Live users, Gray Area, and had it downloaded on the App Store from everywhere in the world.

As much as people thought it was cool, cool never paid the bills. Which is kind of expected, but we thought cool, would be, you know, cool. But it wasn’t.

The last pivot we took was called Ubiq. Ubiq was ‘metadata for real space’, a way to give you information about any real-life object by scanning. Due to a series of legal, fiscal and philosophical differences, the company tanked, and we split ways.

What largely remained were these folders, now residing in the purgatory of Dropbox, JottaCloud, and Copy cloud storage:

And that doesn’t even include all the icons of our graphic designer, nor the physical swag. It’s hard to describe the feeling of our failed startup — it’s like a pile of dead robots that you had created, not exempt to the 7 Stages of Grief.

The failure of Scientific Humanities, juxtaposed on the triumph of completely meaningless apps, made my blood boil. Why not us?! It actually ‘would have made the world a better place’.

In vogue of a Star Wars tragedy, I cannibalized my design and code from Ubiq, and rebuilt the fragment into an app that will too, waste everyone’s time and extract money.

Hologen: Send your regards, give thanks, express love — through your own photo-generated 3D avatar surrogate superpositioned in augmented reality. For $0.99.

I want people to see it. Because next time we criticize some app for having no benefit to anyone, besides idle distraction, consider that they might have started as Scientific Humanities, LLC, too.

If the app triumphs, the irony won’t create a unicorn, so I’m not stamping this post with an App Store download badge. For the sake of irony, you can download Hologen here, and browse the meme gallery here, but I’ll finish this first chapter by pressing this button on iTunesConnect, myself:

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