MIT spin-out Tulip Interfaces developing tech for the factory floor

Tulip Interfaces co-founder Natan Linder, with a LuminAR prototype at the Media Lab.
Tulip Interfaces co-founder Natan Linder, with a LuminAR prototype at the Media Lab.

The latest venture spawned by the MIT Media Lab, Tulip Interfaces, already has 11 employees in Somerville and is conducting early pilot tests with customers. But the company still has no website, and all co-founder Natan Linder would say via e-mail was that he’s hoping to remain under the radar for a bit longer.

But Tulip seems to be commercializing a version of one of the niftiest projects I’ve seen at the Media Lab in recent years: LuminAR, a digital projector affixed to the end of a desk lamp that can basically turn any surface into an iPad, displaying and letting you manipulate information. The device has a built-in camera that can discern what your hands are doing as you “touch” images and data being splashed on the surface. (See the demo video below.) Several sources aware of what Tulip is up to say that the company is applying its technology in factories and other industrial environments, to monitor the health of equipment and manufacturing processes.

Linder and another Media Lab researcher, Rony Kubat, are Tulip’s founders. The company hasn’t yet raised venture capital funding, according to two sources with knowledge of the company. Linder was also involved with the 3-D printing startup Formlabs, also based in Somerville.

Tulip’s trademark application covers an “interactive projector system…for projecting information on surfaces or objects.” I covered the original LuminAR project back in 2011.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
Follow Scott on Twitter - Facebook - Google+