You’re reading our weekly Maker Pro Newsletter, which focuses on the impact of makers in business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Subscribe today and never miss a post.
“My first hundred thousand dollar mistake was making all the molds.” –ADI Founder Kevin Liang
Inventing the City of the Future at Maker Faire Barcelona
When tens of thousands of makers gathered this past weekend for Maker Faire Barcelona (@MakerfaireBCN), they weren’t just taking part in a European maker extravaganza — they were also bearing witness to myriad ideas and technologies intended to explore the future of lived urban spaces.
As such, the event was a grand experiment in the power of groups of innovators to collectively confront a design challenge, and the results were extraordinary. There was the Fertilecity Project (@Fertilecity), for instance, which is exploring ways to harness rainwater and residual heat to produce food on next-generation rooftop gardens. There was also Open Source Beehives (@OSBeehives), which is creating a system of sensors and algorithms that beekeepers can use to track colony health, as well as Mass Distribution of (Almost) Anything, a trans-media exhibition by Fab Lab Barcelona (@fablabbcn) that looks at how manufacturing can be reintegrated into the urban environments — and, of course, much more.
“We’re giving visibility to an immense local community that tends to stay in their garages producing,” said Mariona A. Ciller, the director of Maker Faire Barcelona. “We’re connecting business, makers, citizens of all ages with the Maker Movement and giving them new ideas of how cities can produce locally and connect globally!”
How Tariffs Could Affect Maker Pros
We’ve written previously about how looming trade conflicts could affect hardware startups and other entrepreneurs who build things. Now, inveterate maker pro Andrew “Bunnie” Huang (@bunniestudios) weighed in on his blog — and he believes that the tariffs scheduled to go into effect next month are going to hurt small-time makers far more than big companies, which can afford to protect their supply chains.
“A huge variable I realize that nobody knows the answer to is how durable the tariffs will be, e.g. are they here for just a couple months until the midterms are over, or are they a fixture and ultimately a new revenue stream the government will become dependent upon to tighten up the deficit caused by the tax cut and jobs act,” he told Make: this week. “If it’s the latter then there will be huge problems for the US, as this is a hugely regressive tax.”
The Maker Pros of Africa
Nigerian professor, entrepreneur and maker advocate Ndubuisi Ekekwe has a new lecture about the state of the hardware market in Africa. Tech funding in Africa has largely flowed toward software and financial companies, he said — but with the right infrastructure improvements, he believes, innovators across Africa could invent technology that could solve many problems in energy, agriculture and healthcare.
“At the end of the day, there is no hacking here,” he said. “You need to understand how the signals move, and you need to find a solution.”
How Embracing Design Constraints Can Enrich a Prototype
In a terrific new guide, Jaycon Systems (@jayconsystems) founder Jiten Chandiramani (@Jayduino) — who has built a career helping creatives turn hardware concepts into tangible, salable products — zooms in on the design phase of hardware prototyping.
The entire guide is an exemplary walkthrough of the hardware design product, but a key takeaway is to embrace design constraints. Then, working within the rubric of what’s absolutely necessary, it’s time to get creative.
Speaking of learning from experienced makers, don’t miss this story about the mistakes that maker pro Kevin Liang, the mastermind behind the Ecoqube (@DesignADI) aquaponics kit, won’t make next time he brings a product to market.
“My first hundred thousand dollar mistake was making all the molds,” he said. “Our superpower now is making a product quick that’s functional, and launch from the ground and ship it.”
How Maker Pros Can Hack the Human Brain
Calling maker pros in San Diego: tonight, Hardware Massive(@hardwaremassive) is hosting what looks like a riveting, transhumanism-inflected event about moonshot interface technology, from harnessing biometric signals to build the next generation of UX to connecting brains directly to the internet — or even to other brains.
Angel investor Steve Hoffman will speak at the event, which is called Neosapiens: Mind Tech, AI, Brain Chips & the Future of Humankind, and will take place at 6pm tonight at Draper University — details in the event info.
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
You’ve heard of the internet of things, but what about the internet of bugs? Finnish startup Valpas (@valpasio) is working on a gadget, aimed at motel managers, that traps bed bugs and reports back about the captured pests via a wireless connection.
Make: columnist Liam Grace-Flood (@liamgraceflood) published a worthwhile meditation this week on the vast diversity of goals and circumstances that can guide a makerspace — including difficult questions about how to balance an organization’s needs with a community’s need for the organization.
Speaking of Liam’s work, his latest project is called Co, which is a new way of collaborating on documents and plans that can solicit inputs from large numbers of people. Liam is particularly interested in the way the platform could be used to organize community makerspaces. The project was recognized by the Core77 Design Awards (@core77).
In other award season news, the Europas Awards finalists have been announced, and the list is hot with maker pros. Educational computer kit Kano (@TeamKano) made the cut, as well as digital health startup Kokoon (@SleepKokoon), spacetech outfit Lilium Aviation (@Lilium), and more.
The wearables market can feel like a lot of samey fitness bands. One reviewer was blown away by Motiv (@Motiv), a new concept that packs all the electronics into an unobtrusive ring.