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“A successful IoT can’t be built on the cheap.”
–Former Apple Executive Jean-Louis Gassée
Window on the White House
Makerspace organizers from across the country gathered at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — that’s literally next door to the White House — last week for a meeting associated with the administration’s Nation of Makers (@NationOfMakers) initiative. The goal of the event was to bring together disparate elements of the maker community for a collaborative discussion about structuring nonprofit organizations, measuring impact on communities, fostering diversity, and avoiding burnout. You can catch a video of part of the meeting here.
The Obama administration (@POTUS) has been a vocal proponent of the maker movement and in particular its potential for fostering entrepreneurship. In addition to the Nation of Makers initiative, it held the first-ever White House Maker Faire in 2014, organized a similar event the following year, and pulled together the National Week of Making this past summer. White House officials have opined that makers represent the latest in a long line of tinkerers who have fueled the economic growth of the United States.
That support can mean a lot for individual organizers. “I just about fell over when they got back to me and invited me to the White House,” said Thomas Asmuth (@kidNeutrino), a professor at the University of West Florida who attended the Nation of Makers event in DC.
Spotlight: Inventables’ Zach Kaplan on the New X-Carve
Inventables founder and dedicated maker Zach Kaplan gave us the inside scoop on the upcoming X-Carve redux, which the company officially announced yesterday. The company’s design philosophy on the new unit was reliability, he said: it’s backwards compatible with previous versions, the X-Controller has been overhauled, and the components are now sturdier, more powerful, and more accurate.
The new X-Carve also gave Inventables a taste of viral success. As a preview of the new tech, the company gave HomeMade Modern’s Ben Uyeda (@BenUyeda) access to a pre-production model. Uyeda used it to build a spiral staircase out of many layers of plywood, and a 27-second time lapse video of the project racked up millions of views and cracked the front page of Reddit.
The clip’s runaway success took Kaplan by surprise. “We’re definitely trying to broaden interest,” Kaplan told us. “But did I know the staircase was going to get nine million views? That’s crazy.”
Maker Pros at World Maker Faire
World Maker Faire is just a month away. Each week for the next month, we’re going to highlight a few of the maker pros you’ll be able to meet in New York City on October 1-2. So without further ado:
ZeGoBeasts (@zegobeast) are lovably goofy wooden walking robots that come in flat-packs, like Ikea furniture. The bots were spotted at Maker Faire Bay Area, but so far the company is still teasing an official launch — is it possible they’ve got something big planned for World Maker Faire?
The Aerial Sports League (@aerialsports) will be back this year with an extravaganza of state-of-the-art drone competitions, from FPV drone racing to aerial combat, and will be offering free drone training for kids. ASP represents an intriguing sector: they want to see the consumer-grade drone revolution power a whole new genre of visceral, televised sports. Count us in!
The nonprofit Green Bronx Machine (@greenBXmachine) will be setting up pop-up “vertical farms” invented by the maker pros at Tower Garden (@TowerGarden), which specializes in aeroponic growing systems. So if your sandwich could use some extra lettuce, track these installations down.
Industry Beat: the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things had a strong showing during the last two weeks. We saw the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for Onion’s (@OnionIoT) Omega2 dev board, the debut of Intel’s (@intel) candy bar-sized Euclid computing platform and, soberingly, more evidence of poor security in the electronics that run modern automobiles.
That trifecta of stories illustrates the potential as well as the challenges that still face the nascent IoT industry. The proliferation of new platforms jockeying for market share, both open source and proprietary, raises questions about standardization and forward compatibility. The concept of networking our homes and vehicles cries out for effective security, but high profile snafus in industries from automotive to home security to aerospace have shaken consumer confidence.
But it’s not all bad news. A groundswell of developers, from hobbyists to entrepreneurs, are encouraging stability, experimentation, and accountability. In a high-energy post that caught our eye this week, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée (@gassee) excoriates the segment of the tech sector that churns out dubious, overpriced IoT gadgets — but finds a silver lining in the industrial and HVAC sectors, where networked devices often work effectively for long periods of time. The catch is that the price matches the quality. “A successful IoT,” he said, “can’t be built on the cheap.”
A few other IoT stories caught our eyes this week:
A tidy new roundup of IoT protocols finds order underlying the chaos of platform fragmentation.
And not everything, of course, is deadly serious: remember the Digital Beehive, a fun project that uses Wi-Fi that broadcasts vital statistics about, well, bee colonies?
Also, check out the lighthearted upcoming class by Shayne Hodge (@PurpleQuark), in which participants will build a device that tracks the location of Hodge’s CEO’s car, so that he’ll know when to “stop watching cat videos and get to work.”
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:
For hardware entrepreneurs, there’s no place quite like Shenzhen, the Chinese manufacturing city with a no-nonsense approach to building almost anything. Consequently, Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ) is going to be a world destination for entrepreneurship, robot combat, next-generation fashion, and more.
Researchers at Harvard used 3D printing to create the world’s first autonomous, untethered soft robot. The Octobot, which looks like a slithery cartoon cephalopod, could pave the way for a new generation of similar automata.
The 3Doodler pen debuted with a splash three years ago. Now the company is back with the 3Doodler Create; Make:‘s Andrew Salomone already has a review of the new device.
Upcoming Maker Faires
» Bristol Mini Maker Faire (Harbourside, UK): Sep 3
» San Jose Mini Maker Faire (CA): Sep 4
» Des Moines Mini Maker Faire (IA): Sep 5
» Aggieville Mini Maker Faire (Manhattan, KS): Sep 10
» Louisville Mini Maker Faire (KY): Sep 10
» The Ozarks Mini Maker Faire (Springfield, MO): Sep 10
» Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire (Netherlands): Sep 10-11
» Portland Mini Maker Faire (OR): Sep 10-11
» World Maker Faire New York (Queens, NY): Oct 1-2
Find a Maker Faire near you on the Maker Faire map.