“We can create and engineer the type of world we want to live in.”
From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.
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TechShop Menlo Park Facing “Urgent Situation”
TechShop Menlo Park, the founding location of the makerspace chain that has grown to six facilities, is facing an “urgent situation,” according to an email sent to members by TechShop founder Jim Newton (@TechShopJim).
“We received notice from our landlord that TechShop must vacate our Menlo Park location by October 31st. In spite of our best efforts, negotiations have failed to produce even a short term extension of our lease to early 2014,” Newton wrote.
Newton said that the company plans to respond to the eviction by building a brand new shop, but because of the short timeline the location faces two options: “We need to either move TechShop Menlo Park to a temporary location with a reasonable subset of tools, equipment and programs, or temporarily close it down.”
Newton asked members to help identify possible locations for a temporary TechShop, and listed the requirements.
At the same time, TechShop is looking to raise $2.5 million to build a new flagship TechShop in the Menlo Park area, Newton said, adding that the goal was to raise the money through $25,000 loans from members and the local maker community, as well as through membership sales, contributions, and an upcoming Indiegogo campaign currently in the works.
The TechShop chain was founded by Newton, an inventor and robot enthusiast, in October 2006. The company now has six locations around the U.S., and has announced plans to open three more. The primary revenue driver is memberships, which are $125 a month, but facilities also host classes and rent space to startups.
In the email, Newton said that TechShop management will be sharing further details about the situation in the next few weeks, and he invited members to attend information meetings at the facility this weekend: Saturday, Aug. 24 at noon, and Sunday, Aug. 25 at 3pm.
When contacted by MAKE, TechShop management said that it did not have additional comments at this time.
Bre Pettis, VC Panel Added to Hardware Innovation Workshop Agenda
Pettis, Dixon, and Witheiler (left to right)
Bre Pettis (@bre), CEO and founder of MakerBot, has joined the speaker lineup for the Hardware Innovation Workshop, scheduled for World Maker Faire week on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens (the venue for World Maker Faire, Sept. 21-22.)
The one-day event will again focus on the business of making and navigating the ecosystem. The agenda features speakers with expertise in digital fabrication and manufacturing, 3D printing, industrial design, and robotics.
Sessions will also feature leading firms from the investment world who focus on hardware innovation, as well as individuals from incubators and accelerators who specialize in startups with early-stage hardware products and devices.
Newly confirmed for HIW: a venture capital panel that includes:
- Chris Dixon (@cdixon), Andreessen Horowitz
- Matthew Witheiler (@witheiler), Flybridge Capital Partners
- Zack Schildhorn (@zackschildhorn), Lux Capital
- Eric Wiesen (@ewiesen), RRE Ventures
Over 25 speakers are scheduled to speak at the workshop. Themes and topics include:
- The Evolution of Microcontrollers as Development Platform
- The Year of the Sensor
- The Design Advantage
- Trends in 3D Printing
- Maker To Market
- Case Studies in Success
Pitch Your Prototype
HIW judges are currently evaluating submissions from entrepreneurs for the Workshop’s final session, when finalists will present their prototypes to the audience of their peers and experts, to convince them their ideas have merit and commercial viability.
At the evening event, they will have the opportunity to display their projects and explain their business strategy to the assembled crowd.
The deadline for submissions has been extended to August 31. The project that garners the most audience votes will win $5,000. Clickhere to submit a project.
Should Your Next Manual be an Augmented Reality App?
What’s that button do again?
Looks like it’s working for Audi.
Despite its oh wow factor, augmented reality hasn’t found many practical uses. Does Red Bull really need an augmented reality app? But hardware projects may give the technology a legitimate reason to wake up every morning and go to work.
Case in point: MAKE readers may recall that augmented reality is an essential part of the educational electronics company LightUp, which won the Pitch Your Prototypes session at last spring’s Hardware Innovation Workshop.
Two Challenges Facing the Internet of Things
Why hasn’t the Internet of Things taken off faster? Two reasons, according to a pair of recent posts:
- The “Anarchy of Things” problem. An admirably brief post on PopSci sums up how difficult it is for smart devices to harmonize.One interesting fact from the piece: The average household alreadyhas 10 connected gizmos, and experts predict that number will jump to 50 by 2022. And because there are so many protocols — connecting devices to each other, and to the internet — these devices simply aren’t syncing up.
The story describes a few short-term efforts to solve the cacophony, and some longer-term standardization plans by giants like Cisco, IBM, and Facebook.
- Where’s the money, anyway? The Hack Things blog collects the current crop of home sensors into a Google Doc spreadsheetthat sorts them into categories like price, funding, hackability, and capabilities.A companion post picks a few leaders, based mostly on “real-world end-user scenarios and usability.” Not as promising, according to Hack Things: the sensors that appeal primarily to “the hobbyist audience.”
Chris Meyer’s Plans for Madison’s Sector67
One of the pleasures of monitoring a cresting river of news about makerspaces (and hackerspaces, and fab labs) is reading articles on maker initiatives around the world in their local newspapers and websites.
It never gets old, because each project has its own regional wrinkle: a unique tie to a local industry, or an educational institution, or a fading industrial legacy.
New makerspace projects also frequently introduce novel, inventive hybrids, which may turn out to be valuable models for future enterprises.
The new wrinkle: Sector67 is going to be an anchor enterprise in a $13.5 million startup hub called StartingBlock Madison.
The new initiative gives Meyer the opportunity to move the makerspace to more permanent digs, and gives it a shot at growing just enough to be self-sustaining — and provide Meyer with a salary.
Meyer is an original thinker, and a frank interview subject, which will make the article interesting to makers — and makerspace dreamers — far from the Badger State.
Robert Bye’s T-Shirt Hanger
Robert Bye’s Hangen
The idea couldn’t be simpler: a hanger for t-shirts, one that won’t stretch the collars.
But you may be surprised to learn how much work British design student Robert Bye (@robbye91) has already put into his Hangen. In the last year and a half it has gone through four major redesigns with over 100 development iterations.
Another surprise, to Bye as well: the value of a life-sized corrugated cardboard mock-up. It inspired numerous modifications and improvements.
The life-sized cardboard mock-up
You can read Bye’s behind-the-scenes account in the design blog Core77.
Saul Griffith’s inflatable robot at Otherlab
You may have come across Saul Griffith’s name in MAKE over the past few years, in a bunch of different contexts, without knowing too much about him, or his approach to making.
Laura also included an inspiration video created by Autodesk that captures many of Griffith’s ideas about engineering against a video montage of work at Griffith’s Otherlab.
There are literally dozens of quotes we could pull out of these two pieces, but we’ll settle for one: “We can create and engineer the type of world we want to live in.”
World Maker Faire New York
One month until the show! Sept. 21–22.
And consider arriving a few days earlier to attend the Hardware Innovation Workshop. For the latest confirmed speakers and sessions, click on Speakers and Agenda.
Featured Maker Faires
Start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3–6. It is for Europe at large, and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond. (You can watch a sneak preview here.)
Mini Maker Faires
More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.