Turtle Mail.
Turtle Mail. (source: AE Dreams, used with permission.)

In this episode of the O’Reilly Hardware Podcast, Jeff Bleiel and I speak with Niko Triulzi, co-founder and CTO of AE Dreams, the makers of the children’s product Turtle Mail, a wooden mailbox with a WiFi-connected thermal printer inside. Triulzi explains the hardware and software workings of the device, which enables parents, relatives, and friends to send a message from a computer or mobile device. The child then receives the message, which is printed from the mailbox.

We talk about the company’s experience working at TechShop Pittsburgh (a member-based workshop that offers tools and education for making things); Carnegie Mellon University’s incubator Project Olympus; and AlphaLab Gear, a Pittsburgh-based accelerator for hardware startups. Triulzi also describes the product’s manufacturing and assembly process, and issues related to the security of IoT devices.

At the conclusion of the episode, we have a brief chat with Jon Bruner, who originated the Hardware podcast along with David Cranor. Bruner is currently hosting the O’Reilly Bots Podcast. He fills us in on his latest activities regarding artificial intelligence and chatbots, and we discuss Google’s TensorFlow framework for deep learning and Amazon’s EC2 F1 instances, which enable the deployment of FPGA hardware in the cloud. (For a bots primer, listen to Episode 1 of the O’Reilly Bots Podcast.)