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“It sounds dramatic to say that lives are at stake… but they are.” — Dana Lewis, founder of OpenAPS

Avnet Wants to Help Hardware Startups Succeed

William Amelio built his career at Lenovo, Dell, and IBM starting in the days of mainframes. However, when he became CEO of electronics distributor Avnet (@Avnet) last year, Amelio saw an unprecedented opportunity to help hardware entrepreneurs bring ideas to market.

“We’re at a unique time in history where we’re seeing this explosion of life-changing ideas,” Amelio told us in an interview this week. “You have bandwidth at your fingertips, you have devices that 10 years ago would have been the size of a truck and today are the size of a fist.”

Amelio said that Avnet has been positioning for a relaunch since last year, when it bought Hackster (@Hacksterio) and Premier Farnell. The idea, he told us, is to give the combined communities on Hackster and Farnell’s Element14 (@element14) access to Avnet’s formidable sourcing and manufacturing resources — not to mention Farnell’s other capabilities, which include manufacturing the Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi).

In the midst of all this, Avnet launched a resource directory called MakerSource (@maker_source) that Amelio said will tie in with the plan. The entire project is ambitious, with a lot of moving pieces, but we will be interested to see where it goes.

The Maker Pros of Indoor Gardening

Make: contributor Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) reports on HAMAMA (@hamama_greens), a Bay Area startup selling a kit for growing edible microgreens.

Founders Camille Richwoman (@CRichwoman) and Daniel Goodman (@d_h_goodman) are both alums of MIT’s hallowed Media Lab (@medialab), and it shows in HAMAMA’s lateral approach to home gardening. Instead of wiring up sensors and chips, like they did in their MIT research, Richwoman and Goodman devised a quilt that lets the plants themselves access the light and humidity levels they need.

Fabrication Frontiers

The MIT grads behind the high-tech clothing brand Ministry of Supply (@MinistrySupply) recently added a “couch-sized digital loom” to the company’s Boston store. The machine will stitch you a custom blazer or sweater in just 90 minutes. Ministry of Supply is not the first business to have tried out next-gen fabrication tech on Newbury Street; MakerBot (@makerbot) tried, and failed, to launch a 3D printing storefront a few years back.

Speaking of textiles, Kniterate (@Kniterate) launched a Kickstarter campaign for its eponymous digital knitting machine this week, and promptly raised nearly triple its funding goal. It is not surprising: their machine is absolutely mesmerizing to watch.

Also on Kickstarter this week was Moai, a high-resolution laser SLA printer that blew through its $30,000 funding goal. One smart decision: the maker pros at Peopoly (@mypeopoly) made units available for review before launching the crowdfunding campaign.

We’ve also got a pair of 3D printer reviews on the Make: blog this week. Chris Yohe was impressed with the ZMorph 2.0 SX’s (@ZMorph3d) five swappable tool heads, and Jean Carlos Cedré reports that the Boxzy (@BoXZYcnc) is a versatile jack-of-all-trades unit that combines a decent CNC mill, laser engraver, and 3D printer.

Bitcoin Gets a Hardware Wallet

Cryptocurrencies are digital by nature, but a startup called Ledger (@LedgerHQ) raised $7 million this week to build a physical bitcoin wallet.

The company’s main gadget is a thumb drive-sized device that can store digital currency, though it is also reportedly working on a larger version with a touchscreen. Investors may be drawn to the underlying tech, which could be used in realms beyond cryptocurrency, like verifying the integrity of different types of computing devices.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Make: contributor Lisa Martin reports on OpenAPS (@OpenAPS), an open source project that is working to perfect a DIY artificial pancreas. “It sounds dramatic to say that lives are at stake,” said Founder Dana Lewis (@danamlewis), “but they are.”

Here’s one way not to do customer service for an IoT gadget. When a customer reported problems with Garadget (@thegaradget), an internet-connected gizmo that opens garage doors, the company responded by bricking the customer’s device remotely. The story went viral, but Garadget did not back down.

If you need a little comic relief — or you are uniquely terrible at design — check out Make:’s April Fools contest to design the worst drinking cup possible.