About Model B

Model B, LLC is a startup in Washington, D.C. Model B came out of a personal project, the Holoseat exerfied* game controller, developed by founders J. Simmons and Bryan Christian. Today, Model B is taking this personal project from concept to product.


Model B gets its name from the belief that the first draft of any project always needs refining. It is only on the second draft or revision – the Model B, if you will – that a project starts to really demonstrate its value. We want Model B to become known for its ability to refine an idea from promising concept to practical solution, just as it is doing with taking the Excite Bike concept and extending it to a wider gaming audience with Holoseat.


In short, we are the second actor that learns the lessons exposed by the first actor and iterates the concept into a viable product.

Our Mission Statement

“To provide practical, ready-to-use solutions to everyday problems based on experience and iterative development.”

 

Model B is dedicated to addressing challenges faced by people in their personal, professional, and social lives. The solutions Model B delivers are based on personal experiences and testing – not just theories or testing in some lab removed from day-to-day life – to ensure the solutions will work as needed out in the real world.

 

Finally, Model B’s development process is built around a build-test-refine cycle. This cycle emphasizes learning lessons from real-world experience to refine a concept until it reaches a stage where it has become a viable and practical product. For concepts originating outside of Model B, this cycle starts with the refine step to take the lessons from first actors and begin with the second draft of the concept.

Our Values

We are refiners: Model B products are always the result of iterative development. Even when we are the initial conceivers of a product, it will first go through a public pre-release development cycle (in the form of open-source project) before being iterated into an official product.


Open source: Model B believes in the power of open source (software, hardware, documentation, etc.) and will release all of its products under open-source licenses and without digital rights management (DRM).


Transparency: Model B posts its project status on the open-source portal where the project data is maintained.


We use our products: Model B maintains a customer perspective by developing products we also need and use. If it doesn’t work for us, it isn’t ready to release to our customers.

How we're different

Unlike the big players in the markets we enter, we are members of our target audience. Take the gaming hardware industry and Holoseat, for example. Companies developing gaming hardware are generally part of large companies like Sony and Microsoft. When they have tried to develop physical interfaces for their platforms, they have missed the mark by creating hardware that needed new sub-genres of games.

 

At Model B, however, we are gamers, so we focused on building a solution that works with the games we love and play. The result is the Holoseat – a gaming peripheral that works with the games people already play, ensuring gamers will actually use Holoseat over the long-term.


Which brings us to our value proposition: We create products that solve problems in a way that people will actually use them, because we create products for user communities we are a part of.


We know our customers’ pains because they are our pains. When we release a product, customers can trust that it is ready because we are already personally relying on it in our day-to-day lives.


J. Simmons, co-founder and co-developer


J. has worked in open-source hardware for the past six years. During that time, J. has led the development of Open Design Engine (a project hosting portal for open-source hardware), the Shepard Test Stand (a rocket test stand for Estes motors), the Ground Sphere ground station (a low-cost satellite receiving station), and, of course, Holoseat.


Over the course of these projects, J. has developed skills in Arduino programming, small-scale electronics, agile development processes, and Node.js (especially as applied to robotics). These skills are in addition to his academic background of theatre lighting design (BFA), computer science (double major), and space systems engineering (MS, PhD). Yes, J. really is a rocket scientist.


As part of the two-man band that is Model B, there are few specific roles either J. or Bryan fill. However, they do have areas they tend to focus on more. For J., these areas include Arduino and Node.js development, pitch preparation, and system architecture (informal as that may be at present).


Bryan Christian, co-founder and co-developer


Bryan is a lifelong gamer and the first “early adopter” for Holoseat. It was Bryan’s drive to add Holoseat to his gaming (and his constant encouragement) that led J. to sit down and formally document the Rev 2 Holoseat.


From this documentation, Bryan got his first taste of open-source hardware, as he first built his own copy of Holoseat, then started offering improvements. Bryan’s early contributions included mating the Holoseat controller with an under-desk elliptical unit and writing the Windows configuration application (an element Bryan still maintains today).


It was not long before J. invited Bryan to join the Holoseat project as a co-developer. As a co-developer, Bryan continued to focus on sharing Holoseat with the wider gaming community, taking the lead on managing Holoseat’s appearances at an annual private gaming convention.


Bryan’s professional and academic background is in management information systems (MIS). He applies his combination of technical and business skills at Model B by focusing on the financial management of the company, developing the Windows configuration application, helping develop the Holoseat hardware, and continuing to manage Holoseat’s public appearances.

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