Nano Magnetics’ Vice President of Operations, Denis Saveliev, talks to TeckComesFirst about how the concept of Nanodots began as well as sharing insight into their new revolutionary Nanoport technology and more.
1) Can you introduce yourself and say what you exactly do at Nano Magnetics day to day?
My name is Denis Saveliev – Vice President Operations at Nano Magnetics. I am responsible for product quality assurance, manufacturing, procurement, and distribution across the various product lines of Nano Magnetics.
2) What is/are your biggest accomplishments?
In our second year, Nano set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest magnetic sculpture
, which was revealed at the Golden Globe awards in Hollywood in January 2011, and later at the New York Toy Fair within the Javits Centre. It was built using over 550,000 gold Nanodots magnets, and weighed over 600 lbs – held by mere magnetic force. It took six people an entire week to design and build it, so the team was obviously very proud to finally see it standing on the red carpet and be awarded the Record. To be honest, none of us knew whether it would stand until it was finally erected on the red carpet. No risk, no reward!
We are equally happy about other notable events in our company history, such as launching the product at Best Buy and becoming the world’s largest producer and distributor of magnet spheres. In terms of the highest potential impact on the consumer market, I have to say that Nanoport is our biggest single accomplishment. We were very excited to announce it at CES earlier this year and witness tremendously positive reactions and feedback from both the public as well as industry members from virtually every technology sector. Therefore, I believe our biggest accomplishments are yet to come!
3) What was the inspiration behind the whole Nanodots concept? Have you had an interest in magnetism since childhood?
I think magnets are intriguing for all ages. There’s something inherently fascinating and mysterious about how they work. In my childhood, magnets were probably the only tactile experience of invisible forces. Back then, they were not nearly as powerful and commonplace like today. In fact, magnet technologies are just beginning to emerge as a functional consumer-facing product, and we would like to remain at the forefront as this trend evolves.
The Nanodots concept was inspired by an online video of magnetic dot discoveries posted by Janos Szaki – a Hungarian mathematician. We simply recognized that round magnets are the ideal constructor with infinite connection point possibilities. Nanodots were developed and marketed from the onset as an advanced constructor. In this sense we were the pioneers of a magnetic dot craze that has now spread to every corner of the world. This also led to Dotpedia and other great platforms driven by Nanodots fans.
4) What challenges did you face in creating the Nanodots and how were these overcome?
We wanted to bring the highest precision magnetic spheres to the market, with the highest quality finishes. Nano Magnetics was the first company to offer precious metal Nanodots in four high-contrast colors, including sterling silver and 20-karat gold. It was quite challenging to develop the fabrication and quality control methods in order to achieve not only size consistency, but also strength and color durability. The creation of functional packaging which doubles as a transparent display and travel canister also took four iterations before we were satisfied with the result. (Canister example: Electroplated Nanodots
via Canister tab)
5) Could you summarize Nanoport in three words?
Universal Magnetic Connector.
6) How long has Nanoport been in development and what obstacles did you face in putting this concept together?
Nanoport was developed over the past 15 months, and some development work is still ongoing. One of the challenges was to determine a universal form factor. Because Nanoport works both as a electric connector as well as a magnetic holder or hinge, this proved to be quite a challenge from a mechanical engineering standpoint since we’re dealing with devices of varying sizes and weights. Therefore, we have to consider a broad collection of different configurations and use scenarios in order to arrive at a truly universal standard.
Another notable obstacle that our engineering and design teams faced was in creating a keying feature and weather proof housing. A keying feature uses a specific magnetic pole orientation to create a magnetic key where an electric contact is established only in the presence of another matching Nanoport. In the absence of a matching key, the magnetic pins of a Nanoport stay in a default retracted position. This feature was designed to prevent unwanted electric connections to metal surfaces, while still allowing for physical latching.
7) Where do you see Nanoport being used in everyday life?
Nanoport has immediate application in the mobile and peripheral devices market, primarily smartphones, tablets, and related accessories. We envision interesting applications in touch-screen devices such as several phones tiled side-by-side to create a tablet interface that can be folded and collapsed for storage. This was never possible before.
Nanoport allows a new level of convenience for cable-free mounting of battery packs, external storage, speakers, camera attachments, etc. to a mobile device. We can imagine many new seamless ways to connect not only phones, tablets and snap-on accessories, but also various combinations of smart devices, displays, and wearables.
In the future, Nanoport can also bring unique solutions to the smart home, appliance and connected car markets.
8) How is Nanoport able to deliver a dynamic reconfiguration on the different modular blocks without losing communication amongst them?
An ideal Nanoport device, such as a smartphone, will have four embedded Nanoports – one at each corner. This presents the optimal positioning of magnets for physical integration with other devices or mounting surfaces. However, only a single Nanoport connection is required to maintain full connectivity for full-speed data and power transfer. A Nanoport connection is a physical pin connection; therefore as long as contact is maintained between any two ports, communication will remain uninterrupted, even in cases of full-degree articulation. This is possible in a completely flush form factor where the devices are held together by mere magnetic force.
9) The idea of a folding tablet seems cool, would you be willing to work with Tablet OEM’s on integrating Nanoport into their own tablets?
We are in discussions with some major OEMs right already. Stay tuned!
10) How exactly do the different blocks communicate with each other, could you share some insight into the technology that is used? Is there a custom API in place for certain commands like extending the screen or choosing which app on which screen etc.
Physically, Nanoport connections register exactly the same as devices connected by cable. In the example of a USB connection, we are simply replacing the traditional pins with magnetic pins.
On the software level, there is more logic that must be defined to account for a wide range of position and behaviour variables. For example, three devices can be stacked to function as a standard phone with a battery pack, tiled to form a tablet, or folded in a triangle to form an alarm clock. All these alternative positions are recognized by software and reflected by the UI.
Nanoport in Action (Image Credit: Nano Magnetics)
11) What’s the wildest custom gadgetry collection you’d like to create yourself using Nanoport?
I often travel for business for extensive periods of time. I would love to assemble the ultimate travel-productivity kit consisting of multiple displays and functional modules that can all be connected without cables. On the airplane, I would assemble an e-book the size of a tablet, use my professional camera add-on to take scenic pictures from a train window, create a curved display mini theatre and sound system at the hotel, and a powerful multi-screen work station at the office. It would be great to house all the processing power in my phone, and connect all my peripheral modules whenever I need to use them using my phone as an authentication key. I guess the simplified answer would be a personal computer-infotainment-work station of sorts.
12) When can we expect consumers to get hands on with Nanoport and start using it to make their future magnetic?
The alpha version of a Nanoport enabled smartphone for developers is scheduled for release this year. Consumer can expect to get hand-on with the first fleet of devices with embedded Nanoports sometime next year. Nano Magnetics is working hard to accelerate the release schedule, but this highly depends on OEM clients who are looking to implement Nanoport in their next generation devices.
13) Are there any other future concepts you’re working on that you could perhaps hint to?
Unfortunately, at this time our works in progress must remain confidential. In the long term, we hope to see Nanoport devices being used in new interesting ways inside homes and vehicles. That should give a small hint as to the direction we are taking.
Denis Saveliev, Vice President of Operations at Nano Magnetics.
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Thanks to Denis Saveliev for participating in this interview. Questions were chosen by both co-founders of TeckComesFirst; Purav and Usman.
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I’m a 23 year old Maths Graduate, who has a great passion for technology and in my spare time I make videos on YouTube to show my passion. I'm also co-admin here at TeckComesFirst and I joined this site back in January 2012.