America’s Greatest Makers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — As the house lights rose on a video montage of Mark Burnett’s television highlights, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich explained to the crowd at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) that Intel, Burnett, and Turner Broadcasting System are collaborating to produce America’s Greatest Makers, an unscripted reality TV show documenting Makers taking a product to market, and are giving a million dollars to the winner.

Burnett, a six-time Emmy winner, known for reality shows such as Survivor, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice seems a natural choice to help develop a show revealing the highs and lows of product design. The show, which is planned to launch in 2016, will run on Turner Broadcasting’s TBS network along with digital episodes that will be available between the more traditional linear TV episodes.

The prize money, and the show itself, indicate how serious Intel is about Maker culture. Last year’s “Make It Wearable” challenge from Intel netted the top selection — wrist-mounted drone Nixie — $500,000. Doubling that and broadcasting it on television will likely attract the attention of many new participants, and will provide enough capital to allow one of them to jumpstart their idea into the business arena in a big way.

Setup for the program is already underway, with casting currently happening. Submission consists of  a written application, a small video describing your product idea, and the prerequisite fine-print signatures.

Especially interesting to note is that someone is not excluded from casting consideration if they don’t already have a working product. It’s this allowance that is sure to create some interesting drama on the screen as contestants experience the rigor of product creation.

Intel Curie module

Intel Curie module populated on a board

There will likely be a very technical aspect to the show as well — central to America’s Greatest Makers is the Intel Curie module, which was announced at CES 2015 and will be made available by the time the 32 contestants are ready to compete in the show. While Krzanich did not provide an exact launch date for the Curie module, he did say that Makers should look to Maker Faire Rome for more details on when they can get a their hands on the new Quark based module.

While the Curie module remains a bit of a mystery, we do know a bit about the specifications from Intel’s press releases.

  • Low-power, 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller
  • 384kB flash memory, 80kB SRAM
  • Low-power, integrated DSP sensor hub and pattern matching technology
  • Bluetooth Low Energy
  • 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Battery charging circuitry (PMIC)

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t get a good look at the Curie module during the Krzanich keynote, it’s incredibly small. We were lucky enough to go hands-on with the module — note the clear tape on the left of the image below. Yes, that’s standard width scotch tape and should provide a good sense that this module is miniscule.

Two Intel Curie modules

Two Intel Curie modules at IDF15, narrower than a strip of scotch tape.

If you think you have what it takes, head on over to the Intel casting call. Good luck!