“My job here is to take us out of Hollywood and into industrial markets.” One glance at the movie posters that line Lime Rock’s front offices reinforces the company’s Hollywood pedigree. Virtually every film with any special effects uses the Talon repeat motion head camera that Steve Miner’s partners’ created. The camera fills in backgrounds with frame-by-frame accuracy. Matt Damon can run past a blank screen in a studio; post-production can place him in Paris, Moscow or San Francisco.
Lime Rock is a $5 million company with an elite staff who design and build motion control devices extrapolated from the Talon technology. Clients include individuals and companies, both domestic and abroad, who wish to document at great clarity and distance. “We can mount a camera on a helicopter with very light carbon filter directional panels and zoom in on a license plate half a mile away.”
Steve has an historical perspective on the benefits of making things smaller and lighter. “After World War II the Russians got more, better German scientists. They developed rockets with greater lift capacity than ours. We developed transistors to make our rockets lighter. We came out ahead in the space race and established our excellence in electronics. Today, our economy is driven by electronics.”
Beyond Lime Rock’s front office, mechanical, electrical and software engineers design and fabricate prototypes. “We design everything here and build the first one to five units on site. Once we have an order for twenty-five or more of a particular device, we fabricate them in China at 1/5 the cost.”
Steve and his partners are at a point in their careers where the thrill of the problem eclipses the drive for money. “About a third of our projects die an early death. Either they aren’t good ideas or they cost too much to bring to reality. We’re not trying to be a $100 million company. We don’t have a web presence. We don’t advertise. The people who need us, know about us. We do what we like and take weekends off.” Actually, all Lime Rock staff wind down the week a bit early: every Friday they share a catered lunch.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I have a positive prejudice toward technology. The only way we escape chaos is though technology. We live in the most peacefully positive era of life on earth. The unintended consequence of such success is over-population. Technology has succeeded too well. We are going to have to do something disruptive to address that. The disruption will come through technology.
“In the next twenty years we will solve the energy question. I don’t know how, but we will. We will develop cheap, non-fossil fuel energy. That will equalize the playing field. Developing nations will come into more affluence. Family sizes will shrink, and we can get to population balance.
“I see us becoming more like Europe. We won’t truck fruit from Costa Rico to Oregon. We will become more decentralized. We are going to share more. You own a few things, rent other things, eat local food and import high value goods, not everything.
“By any measure almost every person in the USA lives better than Louis XIV did 250 years ago. He had gout, bad teeth, and no heat. We lose perspective on how good things are now.”