Saul Griffith

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Saul Griffith
Griffith saul download 3.jpg
Born 1974 (age 40–41)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Fields Material science
Alma mater University of New South Wales (B.MET.E)
University of Sydney (M.E.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.)
Known for Low-cost eyeglasses,
Energy conservation,

Saul Griffith is an Australian American inventor. He is the founder or co-founder of seven companies, including Otherlab (where he is currently CEO), Makani Power, and Instructables.

Early life and education[edit]

Saul Griffith was born into an academic family, and encouraged to question all around him[citation needed], to experiment as a process of learning, and to communicate effectively. He was educated in the public school system at selective primary and secondary levels. He won a scholarship to study Material Science at the University of New South Wales where he graduated in 1997 with a B.MET.E. In 2000, Griffith graduated from the University of Sydney with a Master of Engineering degree.[1]

He won a scholarship to MIT Media Lab to study towards a PhD that he completed in 2004.

The subject of his PhD Thesis was "self-replicating machines". They were one of the first instances of artificial replication being demonstrated using real physics.[2]


Saul is the co-founder and CEO of OtherLab, a research and development company working on computational manufacturing and design tools[3] and applying those tools to projects such as inflatable pneumatic robots and prostheses,[4] novel approaches to heliostat design,[5] and applications of computational origami to the design of pressure vessels (e.g. for compressed natural gas) in arbitrary shapes.[6]

Previously, he was a co-founder of Squid Labs, and its spinout companies and projects Makani Power, WattzOn, HowToons, Instructables, OptiOpia, Potenco and Monkeylectric.[7]

Saul Griffith leads the movement to explain simply and illuminate the technical and practical energy needs of the planet. He also worked closely with the OLPC team to develop a portable human-powered source sufficient to regenerate a battery in a low-cost laptop.

Saul Griffith giving a talk at Poptech 2008
  • 2008 co-Founder Wattzon — Developing personal energy audits to allow people and organizations to understand their power consumption. Role: Chief Scientist
  • 2007 co-Founder Optiopia, Inc. — Developing low cost solutions for testing refractive error and supplying corrective eyeglasses.
  • 2006 co-Founder Makani Power — Role: President & Chief Scientist TED talk video unveiling the invention what Makani Power has been working on: giant kite turbines that create surprising amounts of clean, renewable energy. See Kite power.
  • 2006 co-Founder Potenco ( — Human-powered solutions for electronic devices. Role: Advisor to CEO, Colin Bulthap
  • 2005 co-Founder Instructables LLC ( — Open source step-by-step hardware construction collaboration. Role: Advisor to CEO, Eric Wilheim, Ph.D.
  • 2004 co-Founder Squid Labs LLC — “Do Tank” research lab based in Emeryville, California. Role: Inventor
  • 2004 co-Founder HowToons LLC — A mischievous, informal science education through comic books. Role: Author with Joost Bensen and Nick Dragotta
  • Technical Advisor: make magazine, Popular Mechanics magazine
  • Author of HowToons 120-page graphic novel published by Harper Collins Video explanation.

Griffith now lives in San Francisco.[8]


  • 2007 – MacArthur Foundation "Genius grant".
  • 2006 - WIRED “Rave” awards
  • 2005 - Time Magazines “Top Inventions of 2005” (Smart electronic rope)
  • 2005 - “Technologist in the aid of humanity” award, MIT Technology Review TR35, as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[9]
  • 2004 - Lemelson-MIT Prize $30,000 Student Prize for invention
  • 2003 - MIT IDEAS competition award, Boeing Company Domestic Prize
  • 2002 - Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering Symposium Fellow
  • 2001 - National Inventors Hall Of Fame, National Collegiate Inventors Award
  • 2000 - MIT LEGO Fellow
  • 1998-2004 - Research Assistantship, MIT Media Laboratory
  • 1994/5 - UNSW / UC Berkeley International Student Exchange
  • 1993-98 - UNSW Co-Op Scholarship

Recent patents and publications (selected)[edit]

  • Pat Pending: US Application 20030052425: Lens molding apparatus and related methods
  • Pat Pending: US Application 20050231207: Electronic Elongation Sensing Rope
  • Self-replication from random parts. S. Griffith, D. Goldwater, J.M. Jacobson. NATURE. Vol. 437,29 September 2005, pp. 636
  • Nanostructure fabrication by direct electron-beam writing of nanoparticles. S. Griffith, M.Mondol, D. Kong, J. Jacobson. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B: Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures, Vol. 20, No. 6, pp. 2768–2772, November 2002
  • High Resolution Micromachined Interferometric Accelerometer. E.B. Cooper, E.R. Post, S.Griffith, J. Levitan, S.R. Manalis, M.A. Schmidt, C.F. Quate. Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 76, No.22, May 2000
  • Growing Machines. MIT PhD Thesis, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, September 2004 US 6,348,295; US 6,664,027: Methods for manufacturing electronic and electromechanical elements and devices by thin-film deposition and imaging
  • Towards Personal Fabricators: Tabletop tools for micrometre and sub-micrometre scale functional rapid prototyping. MIT Master's Thesis. MIT Libraries, 2001
  • Thinkcycle at MIT. Sharing Distributed Design Knowledge for Open Collaborative Design. N.Sawhney, S. Griffith, Y. Maguire, T. Prestero, TechKnowLogia, Jan-Mar 2002, pp. 49


  1. ^ "Saul Griffith". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Projects". 
  4. ^ "Solve for X: Saul Griffith on inflatable robots". 
  5. ^ "Novel, Disruptive Approaches to Heliostat Design". 
  6. ^ "Conformable Tank". 
  7. ^ Holthouse, David (December 6, 2007). "How $500,000 can save the world". Fortune Small Business. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ "September 15, 2010". The Colbert Report. September 15, 2010. Comedy Central. 
  9. ^ "2005 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]