We recently caught up with Joachim Horn. Joachim is the founder of SAM Labs, an electronics development kit which allows for individuals who aren’t yet accustomed to engineering, coding or the Internet of Things to create games, music and “pretty much anything”.
SAM Labs began a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funding (£50,000) to further develop their plans. However, they hit their initial target in less than 72 hours and they have now received almost double that amount from over 600 backers. We sat down with Joachim to get his opinion on SAM Labs journey and how the Internet of Things changing the world.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things might still sound to many like something straight out of a science fiction movie. I started SAM Labs to challenge this preconception and include each and every one of us in the revolution: one that will connect 50 billion devices sharing data and become an integral part of our lives by 2050. SAM allows anyone to understand how the IoT works and create new products, without having to be an engineer or possess a high level of technical skills: all that we need now is an idea.
The eureka moment happened when I was studying Design Research at the Tokyo Institute of Technology – eating soba noodles. I could not accept that the innovation process needed to be so complex and technical. I reflected extensively on the way we currently learn technology: we have to learn coding first, then find our way around circuitry, then bring both of them together, and only if the first steps were done perfectly do we get the reward of a working product. My intention was to challenge this process, by starting every experience with working systems from the very beginning, and maintain this level of satisfaction throughout the creative experience.
That is why SAM has no wires, no set up, and no codification. It is already connected to the internet, gamified and based on strong design principles. I wanted to simplify building electronics and coding in the same way Apple had done to personal computers so many years back: move it away from the exclusive group of highly educated engineers and into the hands of everyone who wants to create a solution to their everyday problems.
I started working on SAM alone in Tokyo, and continued it in my home town Brussels. But momentum kicked in when I went back to my university town in London: I stayed over at friends’ houses and invaded empty university offices and labs to work on the hardware and the software. In a few months, I had gathered a team of engineers and designers that bought the vision and together we formed a Centre of Excellence. We leveraged our different academic backgrounds: Imperial College’s technical strength and the Royal College of Art’s humanities focus to bring about human-centred technology.
SAM is our interpretation on technology democratisation. We want technology to be produced – and not only used – by everyone. We want to make electronics and innovation accessible, by creating simple software and hardware resources. But mostly, we want SAM to foster a community gathered around human-centred innovation, and we want to give everyone – whether curious child or innovative designer – the ability to be part of it.