A US technology company is 3D-printing futuristic holiday homes starting from $100,000 (£75,000) that fit in a back garden. Mighty Buildings, based in Oakland, California, says it can manufacture a 350 square-foot studio unit in less than 24 hours, providing owners a peaceful hideaway or a holiday cabin to accommodate guests. The firm is offering a variety of units on its website, ranging from a dinky studio to a luxury family home, which are printed with liquid synthetic stone that hardens almost instantly. The buildings are constructed at the company's facilities, transported to the customer's property on a truck and placed in a back garden with a massive crane. Units could also be leased out by property owners to help tackle the housing crisis, or big companies could also buy them to house employees while they're looking for something more long-term.
Automation is coming for the construction industry, and as I've written, the $15.5 trillion global industry is long overdue for an efficiency-minded technological intervention. A startup called Mighty Buildings is taking the concept to the extreme plans to automate up to 80% of the building process in its factories using 3D printing. It claims it can produce structures with 95% fewer labor hours and twice as fast as conventional construction. This is as much a story of materials science as it's one about robots. The increased automation is thanks to a proprietary composite material used by Mighty Buildings' 3D printers. The company can print more of the building structure than previously possible, including overhangs and roof structures.
Just after 31-year-old Jess Peterson launched animation and documentary studio Mighty Oak last spring, she and co-founder Emily Collins went to the hardware store to get renovation supplies for their Brooklyn workspace. When the two asked for help, a store employee asked, "Don't you have a man to do this?" "Give me the hammer, please," Peterson told him. Peterson was familiar with this reaction; it's a common response to women in the startup field, she tells Mashable. Mighty Oak is a film studio that makes ads and social media campaigns brighter with animation and live action video. But it wants to change the world as well.
Spare5, a gig economy startup that uses the general public to help train companies' artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, has today relaunched as Mighty AI and announced a $14 million funding round led by Intel Capital, with participation from other new investors GV (Google Ventures) and Accenture Ventures. Existing investors Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group, and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) also participated in the round. Founded out of Seattle in 2014, Spare5 has hitherto partnered with big-name companies such as Microsoft, Pinterest, and IBM, among others, who provide the Spare5 community with "tasks" -- these generally focus on identifying the meaning of media assets such as photos, videos, and audio. For example, someone may be presented with a picture of a landscape, and they would have to tell the system what the mountain is, and whether the large body of water it identified is a lake. Moving forward, the company will be known as Mighty AI, and in addition to the funding round, it has signed deals with Intel and Accenture.
The acute pain of California's housing crisis can be measured in the human toll it takes on the increasing numbers of families made homeless by rising rents and the billions of dollars the state loses to the high cost of living. After wrestling with recalcitrant homeowners, husbanding their parcels of land to keep their property values high, the state's leadership passed a law that increased the availability of new rental units and put more money into homeowners' pockets in 2016. The passage of the law has unlocked a wave of entrepreneurial energy as startups look to build things that can make money and solve a real problem for the state -- and eventually -- the nation. These are companies like the recent Y Combinator graduates Homestead and Rent the Backyard and United Dwelling, which has just raised $10 million in funding from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Alpha Edison. These companies aren't building new gaming platforms or cryptocurrency applications, but instead are trying to find ways to bring low-cost housing at an affordable price to homeowners who could use the additional income and renters who are spending increasingly more money for increasingly smaller spaces -- if they can afford those homes at all.