As I prepare to leave Las Vegas, I want to wrap up our MAKE at CES 2013 coverage. Since Tuesday, I’ve spent a lot of time scouring the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center or packed elbow-to-elbow in the press room in an attempt to deliver stories with a maker’s slant. Going into this, I knew it would be a challenge at a show rooted in the consumer electronics industry. It’s so easy to get drawn in by the glitzy booths built by the big guys or even to find yourself lost among aisles and aisles of iPhone accessories while searching for a diamond in the rough.
Luckily, the maker-related stories were out there at both the big and small booths. On the small side, Modular Robotics was demonstrating their Cubelets robotics platform at a little table off the beaten path. Their new Bluetooth cube opens up the platform not only for wireless communication, but also for reprogramming them with a computer. And their 3D-printed Lego adapter prototype was a nice nod to interoperability with other platforms. Hopefully we’ll see that move from prototype to product. Among the large exhibitors, it was fantastic that Intel pulled back the curtain for MAKE readers so that we could get a behind the scenes look at how they created their interactive Ultrabook tree for CES. Best of all, the software tools that the creators used are entirely open source.
One highlight for me was spotting Templeman Automation’s Playsurface, an open-sourced, crowd-funded touch table that we’ve posted about on MAKE before. I was lucky to get a hands on demo of the table and even get a peek inside the cabinet to see how it all works. This was one of those things that looked like it could have been taken right from a booth at Maker Faire, plopped down on the CES show floor and you wouldn’t even know it. Playsurface fit in perfectly in the Eureka Park section of CES, where the show organizers grouped companies that are trying to get a foothold in the consumer electronics industry.
Other companies were demonstrating maker-friendly aspects of their products by opening them up with API’s and SDK’s. Most notable among them is Ford, which announced an SDK for their Sync voice recognition interface. They also announced OpenXC, which grants hackers read-only access to vehicular data. I also had the chance to sit down with the folks at Leap Motion not only to get a demonstration of their Leap Motion Controller, but to gain a better understanding of the company’s attitude towards makers using their product in their projects. The outlook is good: when their product launches within the next few months, we should expect to see a public SDK released along with it. MakerBot also announced an API for their Thingiverse platform and the MakerBot customizer, which opens the door for web-based parametric design. This comes after the company taking some heat from the maker community when they didn’t open source their Replicator 2 3D printer which they released in September.
I hope you’ve enjoyed MAKE’s take on CES over the past few days. It was exciting to envelop myself in all the latest technology and I hope I’ve conveyed some of that excitement to you along the way. As usual, we’ll be keeping tabs on all these companies throughout the year and we hope to see even more maker-friendly technology at CES in 2014.