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Think very very deeply about the really critical features that you have to have — and the ones that would be nice to have.
Juicero Founder Malachy Moynihan

Thriving Locally

There’s enormous pressure on growing startups to relocate to tech hubs. But a heartening dispatch from Hartford, Connecticut tells how, for hardware startups, sometimes a smaller city can be a good place to put down business roots.

After taking part in the Stanley Black & Decker (@StanleyBlkDeckr) incubator program, several fabrication startups including ceramics printing outfit AstroPrint(@AstroPrint3D) and MetalMaker 3D announced that they intended to either remain in Hartford or continue projects with the Connecticut-based Black & Decker — a decision that organizers credited to the toolmaker’s efforts to develop a local ecosystem for maker pro businesses.

“I don’t think that any part of innovation is done on it’s own, so you need founders, you need academia, you need corporates, you need government, military,” said Jenny Lawton, the chief operating officer of Tech Stars, who helped organize the incubator program, in an interview with the Hartford Courant.

Maker Pros Worldwide

It’s been a banner week for Maker Faires around the world, and the visibility of maker pros at the events has never been higher.

Maker Faire Denver (@DenMakerFaire), for instance, featured an Inventor’s Showcase with tiers for professional, collegiate, and school-level competitions, and a panel of Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank)-style judges assembled from “local manufacturers, engineers, designers, capital investment firms, and industry professionals.”

Shenzhen is known as a world manufacturing hub, but after last year’s “Go Pro!” theme, the organizers of Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ) decided this year to look instead at how innovation changes our lives. In that spirit, Mountain Black and Seeed Studio (@seeedstudio) collaborated on “Urban Plants,” an exploration of how urban infrastructure can take cues from the natural world, and the DoeY lamp is a concept for an interactive mood lamp that analyzes your facial expression and chooses a color to suit it.

Maker pros were also out in force at Maker Faire Houston (@MakerFaireHOU), where participants including local startups 3D Distributed (@3ddistributed) and Puzzometry (@puzzometry) showed off their wares while UTMB Maker Health Space talked about the ways that healthcare providers can better serve patients with a maker mindset.

Learning From Juicero’s Mistakes

Malachy Moynihan (@malachymoynihan) has genuine hardware cred: at Amazon, he was instrumental to the development of the company’s Echo and Fire TV products. But he’s taken some flak for his role as chief product officer at Juicero, an expensive and ultimately failed juicer that picked up more than a hundred million dollars in funding before becoming infamous as an example of Silicon Valley overengineering and hype.

But Moynihan is taking Juicero in stride. At a recent event, he offered three actionable lessons that new hardware startups can learn from Juicero’s failure. The gist: always think about the customer, cultivate relationships with the press, and remember that the first iteration of your product doesn’t have to be perfect.

“Think very very deeply about the really critical features that you have to have — and the ones that would be nice to have,” Moynihan said.

Robot Warehouse Keeps It Simple

Malachy Moynihan (@malachymoynihan) has genuine hardware cred: at Amazon, he was instrumental to the development of the company’s Echo and Fire TV products. But he’s taken some flak for his role as chief product officer at Juicero, an expensive and ultimately failed juicer that picked up more than a hundred million dollars in funding before becoming infamous as an example of Silicon Valley overengineering and hype.

But Moynihan is taking Juicero in stride. At a recent event, he offered three actionable lessons that new hardware startups can learn from Juicero’s failure. The gist: always think about the customer, cultivate relationships with the press, and remember that the first iteration of your product doesn’t have to be perfect.

“Think very very deeply about the really critical features that you have to have — and the ones that would be nice to have,” Moynihan said.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Toyota AI Ventures (@Toyota_AI_VC) put out a “call for innovation” this summer, and since then it’s been bringing its show on the road, hosting events with allies in the worlds of hardware and robotics across the country. A Q&A last week in Pittsburgh looked at how robotics companies can navigate the tricky road to commercialization.

PayPal co-founder Reid Hoffman (@reidhoffman) and longtime friend Joi Ito(@Joi), of the MIT Media Lab (@medialab), took the stage at a recent Wiredfestival to talk about how software and hardware companies can move quickly – without breaking things. It’s a worthwhile conversation for anyone interested in ethics and corporate growth.

Initially, it looked like a few large companies – OculusHTC – were going to control the new virtual reality industry. But more and more startups are moving into the space with impressive ideas and technologies, making the market look like more of a tossup every day. The latest: Vario raised $31 million this week for an extremely high-resolution headset.

There’s Arduino (@arduino), the maker community’s breakout devboard. And there’s blockchain, the distributed ledger concept behind Bitcoin and Ethereum(@ethereum). And now Blockduino says it’s a combination of the two, ideally suited for hardware concepts that need an easy blockchain component.

Bart Paulhamus, a robotics expert at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (@JHUAPL), offered an interesting peek this week into how he thinks artificial intelligence will work its way into society. Human-level AI is still far off, he says – but we’ll keep getting tastes of the latest innovations through home automation products and consumer-oriented robots.