Nearly 40 years ago, German publishing company Heinz Heise launched a magazine called Elrad – Magazin für Elektronik that featured cool electronics projects. And while that magazine is no longer in publication, it became the predecessor to c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, launched in 1983 and currently the most subscribed-to computer magazine in all of Europe. Many of the magazine’s 70 editors are Makers and project enthusiasts themselves.
Needless to say, Heise is no stranger to the Maker Movement, so their decision to host Germany’s first Maker Faire Hannover three years ago came as no surprise. As Managing Director Dr. Alfons Schräder notes, “After we became aware of the launch of Make: and after my first visit to a Maker Faire, we were sure that the idea and the spirit would fit perfectly in Germany, with our company and the spirit of our editorial team.”
What they didn’t foresee was just how perfect the fit would be. When they hosted the first Maker Faire Hannover in 2012, Dr. Schräder recalls:
We didn’t have any idea how the community would react on our event and we started quite carefully without having too high of expectations. Our goal was to attract around 1,500 attendees to our first event. I remember very clearly our feelings when we opened the doors on that Saturday at 10 a.m. We had never expected such a large amount of people to be waiting for the opening. The crowd was so huge and our systems and the people at the box office were too few by far, and everybody had to wait to get in. We ended up with 4,500 enthusiastic attendees. Last year, at our second edition of Maker Faire Hannover, we doubled that and had around 9,000 attendees.
Here are some of the faces, projects, and moments captured from the Maker Faire Hannover 2012 and 2013:
And here is their video recap of the 2014 Faire:
Now Heise is gearing up for the third installation of Maker Faire Hannover, taking place this weekend, June 6–7 at the Hannover Congress Centrum, as well as the first annual Maker Faire Berlin, scheduled for October 3–4. Dr. Schräder gave us a preview of what to expect this year:
For the third Maker Faire Hannover, we basically continued what worked best in the last years, as Makers and visitors were very happy with the event. We constantly find and ask new Makers to join us for the Faire and try to incorporate more diverse topics, taking cues from other Maker Faires we visit.
Behind the scenes, we’ve made several changes. First of all, we hired an experienced event manager in December of 2014 to be able to grow from one Maker Faire to two main Faires in Germany and to start sub-licensing other community-driven Mini Maker Faires in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We also invited future Maker Faire producers from these countries for the first time.
We also partnered with several new local catering companies and food trucks who fit the Maker angle better, offering local handmade and diverse food. In terms of local press, a Hannover radio station will broadcast live from Maker Faire, and for the first time there will be a press tour across the Faire. Our highlights this year are Lrry-1, a robotic fire-breathing dog from the U.K. [pictured below] as well as the Timecruiser artist collective presenting imaginative man-powered vehicles [pictured at top].
Naturally, all of the Makers who will be presenting at the Faire are amazing, but here’s a glimpse at three that Dr. Schräder provided us:
Presenting their automatic book scanner on the show floor and in a talk, the local community group Mäqädat was actually founded after the first Maker Faire Hannover in 2013, where the dean of an Ethiopian university sought help from Makers in building a scanner to be able to duplicate and distribute educational materials among the students. We’re happy that they have come back every year since to show their progress.
The PTB (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt; Federal Institute of Physical and Technical Affairs) is the keeper of physical units in Germany, transmitting the long-wave time signal for radio clocks since 1959. They called us, turned out to be Makers at heart, and are now offering visitors to calibrate their multimeters and other measuring devices using their expensive tools, as well as presenting two talks.
The flying broomstick is an enhanced VR project, consisting of the Oculus Rift VR glasses, headphones, as well as a physical, moving broomstick handle. Visitors will have the opportunity to fly through a landscape inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. Maker Gunnar Gertzen started with a Oculus VR dev kit and built the whole construction as well as the software himself.
Aside from the amazing work that Heise is doing making Makers and promoting Maker Faires, in 2014, they started publishing a German-language variation of Make: magazine.
We wish Dr. Schräder and his team the best of luck for their upcoming third annual Maker Faire Hannover, as well as for the upcoming first annual Maker Faire Berlin in October! As Dr. Schräder shared, “Berlin is the most creative hot spot in Germany and one of the most creative hot spots in the world with lots of startups, technicians, artists, and Makers with an international background. For us, it was always clear that we will have to be in Berlin, but we’ll also stay in Hannover.”