SF Node.js meetup, “Hacking with Kinoma”

Rachel Bennett

Rachel Bennett

September 4, 2014

Kinoma Create made its third pre-launch appearance at a meetup. This past week, our Internet of Things construction kit was the featured technology at the latest SF Node.js meetup billed as billed as “Hacking with Kinoma.”

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The event was an ideal opportunity to convey our vision for JavaScript in the Internet of Things, the power of KinomaJS, the speed with which projects can be developed with Kinoma Create, and our commitment to early adopters.

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Participants came from a range of backgrounds, including Angular and front end programming. Two of the attendees wanted to get a jump on using Kinoma Create because it’s their development platform of choice for the upcoming AT&T “Code for Car & Home” Hackathon.

After a quick introduction, we got right to the fun, hands-on work with Kinoma Create, including project initiation in Kinoma Studio, pin muxing, sensor integration, and building projects.

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All in all, it was a successful meetup where we were able to show web and Node.js developers how they can quickly feel at home with hardware, because Kinoma Create is based on familiar JavaScript.

Thank you to Garland Kan, and Toby Morning of Citizen Space for organizing and hosting the event.

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More meetup activity on the horizon

Off of this meetup, we have been invited to present at an upcoming Self Code Study meetup in Berkeley. Details to be announced soon.

Additionally, we are scheduled to address the sizable crowd that gets together as part of the IoT Silicon Valley meetup, on November 20th. We’ll share more about that as the date approaches.

If you are part of a meetup and want the Kinoma team to speak, just let us know. We have very decent geographical coverage in North America, Asia and Europe!

Sketching in Hardware, a Report from Berlin

Andy Carle

Andy Carle

August 29, 2014

I had the recent pleasure of participating in Sketching in Hardware, an invitation-only conference for people and companies involved in building design tools to assist in developing electronics. It was a great opportunity to converge on Berlin with like-minded artists, engineers, and academics interested in making it easier for others to make devices.


Great minds, Big ideas

At an event of this sort, every talk delivered is valuable. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Kate Hartman of OCAD University gave a talk about Sketching with Wearables that was excellent. She addressed the process of rapid prototyping within that domain, discussing the significant benefits of extremely rapid iteration in a space as new and wide-open as wearables. Her work on wearable communication is especially inspiring, as it imagines a world in which technology helps humans become more expressive and better connect with one another — a stark contrast to the usual view of technology as an isolating force.
  • Lars Erik Holmquist is a pioneering researcher in the fields of ubiquitous computing and mobile technology. At Sketching, he explored “The Digital Thing-in-itself: Towards a philosophy of physical/virtual artifacts” — the philosophy of technology as it applies to IoT. This was a nice break from thinking about bytes and electrons… an opportunity to reflect on where our technological developments are leading us and what it means in a broader context.
  • Claire Rowland‘s “The User Experience of Consumer Internet of Things” was a passionate rant on how you port traditional user-centered design values to the IoT space. She expertly made the case against technology-driven products. Her advocacy for user-centered solutions has been shaped by her role as a UX and product consultant specializing in the consumer internet of things.
  • Noah Feehan of The New York Times R&D Lab talked about Semantic Listening, a project in which one’s world is augmented with electronics that sense not only the physical aspects of the environment, but also the meaning of what is happening in that environment. The talk was a fascinating glimpse into a future in which shared context will be much more readily accessible in social settings.
  • Kipp Bradford, The Kippworks founder and Highway1 mentor, gave a broadly scoped and passionately delivered talk on the potential power of design tools. He argued that sketching tools (at least the good ones, that he puts in the category of Frictionless Frameworks) can act as catalysts for tremendous social and economic change. It is invigorating to look beyond the immediate users of our products and imagine real transformation (dare I say disruption?) of major institutions.

JavaScript all the Things!

For my Sketching in Hardware talk, I addressed the role of JavaScript in IoT.

There are large groups of developers on the outside looking in to the IoT space. It’s to their benefit, as well as the benefit of the industry, if we can successfully bring more JavaScript developers with programming talent and compelling product concepts into the IoT space.

This is exactly the problem we’re trying to solve with Kinoma Create — we strive to help JavaScript developers stay in their preferred language all the way from their first prototype to the last product off the assembly line.



Throughout Sketching in Hardware, it was encouraging to hear that others care about the same things we care about on the Kinoma team. It was also interesting to meet others who are grappling with issues similar to those we have faced in bringing Kinoma Create to market (manufacturing challenges and BOM surprises included).

I was particularly struck by discussions about Tesler’s law of the conservation of complexity, in the context of IoT. Complexity is fixed, the law proposes. It can be exposed to the user, or it can be the problem of the engineer to hide it. Something we should all consider when we design for others.

All in all, 45 people participated in Sketching. It was a select group of people within a very defined category — quite a refreshing event format.

Thank you to Mike Kuniavsky for putting this on. You can read Mike’s recap of the event in his Make: magazine article.

Maker Day SF with Kinoma Create

Duncan Kennedy

Duncan Kennedy

August 20, 2014

Kinoma Create was a featured technology at the recent Maker Day portion of Coworking Week, an annual event held across the US. In San Francisco, it was hosted by Citizen Space, a slick co-working spot.

Maker Day was designed to explore the combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies that are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

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We were included in the the agenda at the encouragement of Arrow Electronics, Inc., a distributor that works with Marvell. They’re excited at the potential of making Marvell’s chips available to a new category of customer.

Kinoma intern John Sloan and I presented Kinoma Create to the attendees. The majority of them were familiar with Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and more than half of the audience self-identified as being new to JavaScript.


John gave a well-received tour of Kinoma Create and Kinoma Studio.

Maker Day Coworking Week Citizen Space

The venue was ideal for an introduction to Kinoma Create. Citizen Space is an awesome co-working environment located just north of South Park and right across the street from the Sony PlayStation building in San Francisco. In addition to serving as a productive environment for entrepreneurs, Citizen Space holds classes and events, such as meetups.


Garland Kan, organizer of the SF Node.js Meetup group, was in the audience that night. He invited us back to Citizen Space for a “Hacking with Kinoma” meetup, taking place next Wednesday August 27th. Please join us! You can RSVP through the meetup event page.

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Designed in Silicon Valley, Made in China

Chris Krueger

Chris Krueger

August 4, 2014

Chris Krueger is Creative Director of Marvell’s Kinoma team. He’s a digital design pioneer who has led design, technical and business efforts on groundbreaking interactive programs and products for more than two decades. The photos below were taken during his recent tour of the factories producing and assembling Kinoma Create.

Kinoma Create production is underway in Shenzhen! I recently flew to China for the first (but not last) time to oversee production and testing of the first PCBs and enclosures.

Our main manufacturing factory for Kinoma Create, Beautiful Enterprise Co., Ltd.

Our main manufacturing factory for Kinoma Create, Beautiful Enterprise Co., Ltd.

Here’s my report directly from the factory floor.

PCB boards

After more than a year in design and prototyping, the final PCB designs are ready for production.

The Kinoma Create PCB is a multi-layer design, meaning that it consists of several double-sided boards bonded together with insulating layers in between. Your Kinoma Create will have a eight-layer board.

The factory uses a surface mount technology reflow soldering process. In a process similar to silk screening, a very precise screen is created and solder paste is screened onto the PCBs in the correct locations.


Carefully inspecting screens for the soldering process

Reflow soldering is used for our PCB assembly. The technology has two main stages: First a solder paste is applied to the board, then the board is heated to melt the solder.

A “pick and place” machine places the components onto the board from reels of plastic tape that hold the components in individual pouches, which are held in place on the PCB by surface tension of the solder paste.

When all the components are placed, the assembled PCB can be move to the reflow-soldering machine.


“Pick and place” machines


A pick and place machine loaded with reels of Kinoma Create components

IC components packaged in reel format for robotic placement

IC components packaged in reel format for robotic placement

The reflow soldering process has several phases that heat and cool the board to correctly make the solder joints on all the placed components.

Reflow soldering technology reliably solders surface mount components, including ones with very fine pitch leads.


Assembled boards are transferred to soldering oven via conveyer belts

After the PCB boards have their components soldered, each board is inspected visually and by an extremely high-resolution camera looking for any slightly misaligned components that could be a sign of problems.


Workstation doing visual inspection of assembled boards

The boards are then tested for circuit integrity using a “bed of nails” type probe tester.


Custom probe jig tests board circuit integrity

At this point the PCB is ready to be assembled into the case.

The case

The case is produced in an injection mold process.

The molds are milled from steel block from the 3D design files. Any undercuts require the mold to have a side pull so that the mold can come apart.


This machine is precisely measuring the milled molds to make sure the match the 3D design files

Quite a bit of care goes into the design process to make sure that the design can be cleanly produced with the injection molding process.


A factory employee adds dye to mating surfaces to check for perfect mold alignment

Kinoma Create is made of a polycarbonate blend called PC-ABS, which is a strong and durable plastic also used for phones and car interiors.

The raw material of the plastic is powdered, and the color is made by precisely blending the individual pigments.


This is an injection molding machine with the raw material in the round hopper above. The equipment with the red and black tubes is a vacuum based robot to remove parts after the molds are opened.

The outer surface texture is applied with acid to the final finish.


The actual metal molds for Kinoma Create’s case

Usually, the case needs two or three revisions to perfect the fit and color.


Voila! A finished Kinoma Create case

Touchscreen LCD module

Kinoma Create’s touchscreen is being custom produced for the device. It consists of an LCD screen, drivers and other components that are integrated into the connecting cables and the touch sensor surface. These are bonded together using optically clear tape and pressure. This has to be done in a clean room environment so that no dust is caught between the parts.

The steps are:

  1. Clean all the surfaces


  2. Laminate the bonding tape to the edges of the touch screen
  3. Align the parts using a microscope to ensure that the alignment remains exact


  4. Mount the touchscreen to the LCD with adhesive


  5. Finish the bonding with an autoclave

Now that all major components are in place, the first set of 50 Kinoma Creates can be assembled and distributed to our early testers to make sure that the full production run will be up to our standards.

Soon, we’ll make yours!

Open Source Exploration at OSCON

Peter Hoddie

Peter Hoddie

July 28, 2014

O’Reilly’s OSCON 2014 was just held in Portland. I spent a few days there at the invitation of the event organizers.


OSCON proposes that open source has evolved “from disruption to default.” I attended the conference to better understand the open source movement, specifically as it relates to the work of the Kinoma team.

We use a lot of open source software in Kinoma Create, which is a Linux device at heart. And we have begun releasing code and hardware designs under open licenses. But we are just starting the process of growing a community around that, so there’s a lot to learn.

What impressed the most at this year’s OSCON

Citrix OSCON

  • Catherine Farman and Corinne Warnshuis of Girl Develop It explained the successful steps they have taken to encourage more women to get involved in open source. Their approach to mentoring looks like an effective way to move more people—of all genders—off the sidelines of open source.

Girl Develop It OSCON

  • Michael Enescu, the CTO of Open Source Initiatives at Cisco, spoke of the importance of open source to the Internet of Things. He made the bold assertion that “All IoT will be open source” because that openness brings credibility. Great words to hear from the largest networking company on our planet. Michael also talked about the importance of open protocols, including MQTT. I’m warming up to MQTT, and Andy Piper’s “A Walking Tour of MQTT” showed the momentum growing behind it.


Kinoma Create at OSCON’s Hardware Showcase

The OSCON Hardware Showcase made its debut this year. Were were selected to share how Kinoma Create incorporates open source and communicates using open protocols.

OSCON Hardware Showcase Peter Kinoma Create

While walking the show, I ran into Kyle Simpson, author of the “You Don’t Know JS” JavaScript books, and got to explain how the Kinoma team is applying JavaScript to building embedded devices.

All in all, OSCON brought together a dynamic, extremely technology-savvy audience welcoming of our new ideas. We look forward to more involvement next year.