As any true-blood designer, you never want to be too far away from your iPad and software apps to tide your sudden bursts of inspirations. Morphi is one such app that you’d want to download asap. Inspired by the UI of a TouchScreen, the app gives you access to libraries of unique 3D shapes, texts and colors. Using basic but powerful tools, you can create 3D printable models that are exported in .STL format for uploading to 3D printers using third-party slicing software or to commercial 3D printing services.
We caught up with the team to know more about the app and the story behind it.
Besides the obvious mentioned uses of the app – creating prototypes, making functional and decorative products, building models to teach STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Math) – what other unconventional uses can we expect with the app?
We believe that it’s impossible to list all of Morphi’s uses. At its core, Morphi is a visualizer. It helps people of all skill levels visualize and develop their ideas in a simple and tangible way. People’s ideas take many forms and continue to evolve over time. We want our users to educate us (and the world around them) on all the different ways they are using or want to use the app. Morphi’s platform is intended to be flexible and continue to grow and offer different shapes/text packs to cater to specific uses as they arise.
In terms of education, we as an organization want to use the app to teach steam subjects, as well as other subjects not typically associated with 3d, like literacy. We had our first Morphi lab in New Delhi, India where we taught 3D modeling + printing and other subjects to kids attending government schools as part of the Udyam after school program. Included in these subjects was language skills. For example, we used Morphi’s 3d text feature to teach kids root words in an interactive way so that they could expand their English vocabulary. We would like to apply 3D learning to other languages and subjects as well.
In addition to education, we would love for people to use Morphi to develop products that impact global health, sustainable energy, clean water, nutrition, affordable housing and other areas that will advance the world. We’re currently in the early stages of our release and want to partner with individuals and groups at the grassroots level so that they can directly design the things that they want or need in their communities using Morphi.
Where do you think this app will be most used?
Morphi can be used by anyone anywhere and this is perhaps the most unique feature of the app. We created Morphi specifically for touchscreen tablets because we wanted people of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels to design directly with touch – without being encumbered by a mouse, having to carry around a laptop or be stuck at a desktop all day. In designing Morphi, we were also inspired by the global tradition of creating with hands and wanted a more tactile experience for users than what current modeling programs provide.
In Morphi, people can design on the go – inside, outside, while in transit (train, bus, subway, boat), in the park, at school, in class, at work, while waiting on a line, at the beach, on a mountain top), etc. Users can save directly to the device so they do not need WiFi access to use the app (they do however need internet when they want to export their models for 3d printing). The app is currently available for iPad and iPad mini and we’re also scaling to android tablets and possibly other operating systems. We’re currently in late stage development on our android app, which should be completed, in the next few weeks/months. We’ll keep you posted!
Morphi can also be used whether or not the user has a 3D printer. We believe in 3D thinking – that everyone can benefit from designing + modeling in three dimensions – whether they want to better understand/explain concepts, principles or ideas or want to make printable models.
For users who want to print and don’t have a printer, they can avail themselves to the many 3D printing services or printing hubs that currently exist (examples include Shapeways, Ponoco, i.materialise, Sculpteo, 3D hubs, Make XYZ, Local Hackerspaces, Makerspaces, FabLabs, etc). We ourselves are members of Hack Manhattan, a vibrant NY community that has a variety of 3D printers. Several of our models on Instagram where printed on hack Manhattan’s Ultimaker and RepRap (Mendel) printers.
Is there a cheat sheet or tips and tricks that you can share?
We think guidance is important and built a lot of teaching/tips directly in Morphi. Under the guide button in the app, there are 11 short, fun videos we created (each are 2.5 mins or less) which give quick tips on how to use the tools/features. These videos are also publicly available on YouTube. We will be releasing more videos in the coming months to teach people techniques, including how to make specific models and how to model specifically for 3D printing.
We’re also going out to communities of learners and makers through our Morphi labs. Our first lab was held in New Delhi, India as mentioned previously and we have also taught 3D modeling and printing for beginners at Hack Manhattan in NYC. We will also be teaching at other hackerspaces/makerspaces/schools across the world in the coming months. Stay tuned!
What inspired you to create the app?
We’re inspired by people and the creativity inherent in all of us. People are always in motion and we wanted to develop a mobile tool to help people at all skill levels express their thoughts and ideas more easily and beautifully in 3D. In creating Morphi, we focused on the challenges that we ourselves had in designing in 3D as well as the complexity of modeling with touch. We also wanted to create a space that would be approachable and friendly. Ultimately, we believe we built a design tool that is different – not just in look and feel but in overall experience.
We’re a small, independent start-up and we’re just getting started. We look forward to sharing Morphi with everyone and hope to continue to evolve it as a tool for all.