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“Never underestimate the power of convenience.”

From the editors of MAKE, 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. Please send items to us at [email protected].

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News


APPLE GETS INTO WEARABLES, AND THE SMART HOME

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Apple’s presentation slide for HomeKit, its new “smart home” protocol.

At its annual developers conference this week, Apple unveiled a few initiatives that will make an impact on two emerging sectors: fitness wearables and smart home technology.

In the fitness category, the company is launching a platform called HealthKit and an app called Health. Its smart home offering will be called HomeKit.

Both are motivated by the same idea: to leverage the popularity of Apple’s mobile devices to manage a growing variety of devices and apps. Both will be part of Apple’s new mobile operating system, which will be coming out later this year. Both will have an uphill battle getting new and established players to sign onto the new platforms.

One new wrinkle in the HomeKit product: Siri integration. Up until now voice control has been lagging in smart home products. Apple (and Siri) can up that game.

MCOR TECHNOLOGIES LANDS $9 MILLION IN FUNDING

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3D printed with paper, using MCor technology

The Irish 3D printing company, which uses ordinary office paper as its material, received the investment from WHEB Partners, the London- and Munich-based private equity fund manager.

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KICKSTARTER SPEEDS, SIMPLIFIES CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES

The crowdfunding service now offers an automatic campaign launcher, for people who want to get a project up fast without getting feedback from a community manager. The “Launch Now” feature uses an algorithm incorporating thousands of data points to check whether a project is ready. If it qualifies, you’re good to go.

The service has also simplified its rules, down to three:

  • Projects must create something to share with others.
  • Projects must be honest and clearly presented.
  • Projects cannot fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items.

Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler (@ystrickler) explained the changes in a blog post.

WALMART IS CONSIDERING GETTING INTO 3D PRINTING

Perhaps even buying a 3D printing company. One motivation, according to the CEO: the savings and convenience that will come with the ability to 3D print home and auto replacement parts.

INTERNET ANALYST MARY MEEKER PREDICTS IMPACT FROM “SENSOR PROLIFERATION”

In her annual “Internet Trends” report, a massive slide deck that’s always worth flipping through, Mary Meeker cites the rapid growth of sensors as a future driver of innovation and growth. One of her slides, below, pointed to the number of sensors in the latest Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone — 10. And we know that more are on the way.

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OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NAMES US MANUFACTURING ZONES

Last year the Obama Administration launched the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an initiative to spur U.S. communities to improve their attractiveness as manufacturing centers. Last week, the White House announced the first 12 designated “Manufacturing Communities,” which, no surprise, are broadly scattered across the U.S. Check that link in the previous sentence to see who got the nod.

Eleven federal agencies with $1.3 billion in economic development funds will be encouraged to make targeted investments in public-private partnerships in these areas to strengthen regional manufacturing. In addition, each designated community will receive a federal liaison, and will be promoted as a designated Manufacturing Community to help attract additional private investment and partnerships.

Later this year the administration will announce another round of communities that will join this original dozen, so if your region was among the 70 that applied, you’ve got another chance.

INTEL INTRODUCES ROBOT

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Intel’s humanoid robot, Jimmy.

At a tech conference, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (@bkrunner) demonstrated a 2-foot-tall, 3D-printed robot named Jimmy.

The robot won’t be available until next year, but savvy readers can get a view into the genesis of the project by reading the book 21st Century Robot, by Intel futurist Brian David Johnson (and published by Maker Media). Available for pre-order on Amazon now, and look for it later this year in the Maker Shed.

AUSTIN 3D PRINTING STARTUP RAISES $1.2 MILLION

Two interesting aspects of this fundraising deal, announced last week:

  1. The Austin, Texas-based technology firm Structured Polymers, which raised the $1.2 million in less than a week, develops “specialty polymer materials for the additive manufacturing industry.” Among its principals is Carl Deckard, inventor of the SLS process.
  2. The firm raised the money using MicroVentures, an equity crowdfunding platform of the sort that may soon proliferate if and when the SEC finalizes the rules to govern the broader rollout of equity fundraising, as mandated by the JOBS act.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS: 2025

The Pew Research Center Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Project looked ahead and tried to predict how the Internet of Things will have evolved in ten years.

A wide variety of pundits weighed in, pro and con. Many, like Bryan Alexander(@bryanalexander) senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, are realistic, not particularly idealistic, about an inevitable rise in IoT sectors like wearables.

“We should never underestimate the power of convenience,” Alexander said. “Wearable computing can make things easier for users, and that’s enough to drive adoption.”

CISCO INVESTS $150 MILLION IN THE INTERNET OF THINGS

Cisco Investments, the corporate venture capital arm of Cisco, announced that it is allocating $150 million over the next two to three years to fund early-stage companies and further foster innovation. Internet of Things will be a major theme of these investments.

As part of this campaign, Cisco Investments made three minority investments in IoT accelerators and startups Alchemist AcceleratorAyla Networks andEVRYTHNG. The new funding increases Cisco Investments’ investing in this area to $250 million total, adding to the previously announced $100 million commitment to startups in the IoT sector.

SHOULD YOU STABLE YOUR 3D PRINTER AT A PRINTER FARM?

If you live near San Diego, you now have that option. SD3D Printing, a rapid prototyping shop, has just opened a 3D Printer Farm where you can park your 3D printer. SD3D will maintain and manage your printer, and your projects, for a small fee.

BUILD YOUR OWN RECYCLED PLASTIC FACTORY

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From the blueprint for Precious Plastics’ extruder.

He sparked the modular mobile phone project Phonebloks, since taken up by Google. Now Dave Hakkens (@davehakkens) has released blueprints for a set of small machines designed to work with recycled plastic.

The genesis of the project was Hakkens’ discovery that only about 10 percent of recycled plastic is reused. One reason: manufacturers don’t want to endanger their high-end equipment by using less than perfect source materials. So Hakkens has designed equipment that can work with rougher-grade, impure plastic on the rebound. His new site, Precious Plastic, includes plans for a plastic extruder and an injection molding machine.

Study Predicts New Markets for 3D Printing


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The current status of existing and emerging 3D printing applications on the hype curve, according to IDTechEx (Source: IDTechEx)

The research firm IDTechEx has released a report that predicts dramatic growth for 3D printing, beyond prototyping and home consumer use.

“Wave after wave of 3D printing applications are moving out of R&D and each will get its 15 minutes of fame,” according to the report. “This cycle will continue for at least another ten years as a long list of applications are rolled out commercially one after another.”

Among the new applications poised to grow, according to a review of the report by the blog 3ders.org: “3D printed critical components in commercial airliners, fully-printed rocket engines, 3D printing in schools and universities, animal-rights-friendly bioprinted human tissues for drug toxicity and cosmetics testing and, ultimately, 3D printed electrics and electronics starting with the replacement of wiring with functional 3D printed enclosures containing embedded conductive pathways.”

ARE WE SEEING A REBIRTH OF US MANUFACTURING? YES OR NO?

The Harvard Business Review looks into the question, and of course the answer is, “It depends.” For high value manufactured items — in aviation, for example — yes. But are companies that already have offshore operations moving back to the U.S.? Not yet.

Conclusion: “We do expect many companies to locate new manufacturing facilities in the U.S., particularly in sectors such as aerospace and defense, industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, and the automotive industry,” the authors state. “The bottom line is that companies will locate close to where their growth is originating. This doesn’t amount to a renaissance or a new dawn. But after decades of decline, it’s a welcome advance.”

First Ever Hospital Mini Maker Faire

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An animatronic medical simulation mannequin arrives at the Maimonides Medical Center Mini Maker Faire in Brooklyn.

Maker Faire flavors continue to proliferate. Last week, the Maimonides Medical Center Mini Maker Faire in Brooklyn was the first-ever Mini Maker Faire hosted at a hospital.

The hospital worked with the MIT Little Devices Lab and its own MakerNurse program to bring together health makers from around the hospital and the local neighborhood to showcase actual medical technologies and projects being used everyday.

Among the exhibits: a 6-foot tall, life sized, animatronic medical simulation mannequin used at the Center for Clinical Simulation. It was part of an exhibit called Remaking the Hospital Bed, where Mini Maker Faire guests could modify and attach ideas of how you could improve the typical hospital bed.

10 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR ROBOT MORE HUMANOID

Last week was Robot Week at Make:. If you didn’t check in every day, you might have missed something. So here’s a wrap up.

And here’s a single sample from a week’s worth of stories and projects: 10 Ways to Make Your Robot More Humanoid.

Tip #1: Make your robot blink in a way that mimics the way humans do it: an average of about 17 blinks per minute, increasing to 26 during conversation.

Tweets of the Week


Maker Pro Tool of the Week

PanaVise301

The Panavise Model 301 combines the power and functionality of a traditional vise and adds a swivel head for increased versatility. Hold work or tools in nearly any position so you can get the job done right. Durable (and replaceable) nylon jaws provide a strong, non-marring grip and the metal base mounts securely to your workbench. With the Model 301, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with a regular vise in the first place!

Buy it now in the Maker Shed: Sale price: $44.49.

Upcoming Maker Faires


Here’s what’s happening over the next few weeks:

What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.


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DC Denison

DC Denison

DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in content management systems.


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