Maker Pro News: Football Maker Pros, Nintendo Explores Papercraft, and More

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Maker Pro News: Football Maker Pros, Nintendo Explores Papercraft, and More

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We’re trying to bring visibility to an invisible injury. – Tozuda founder Jessie García

The Maker Pros of Football

Just in time for for the Super Bowl, South Philadelphia startup Tozuda (@tozudaLLC) is working on a maker pro solution to a complex problem: an impact sensor that can be affixed to a standard football helmet, and which lights up red when an impact is hard enough to cause a concussion.

According to founder Jessie García, a lifelong athlete, the idea is to signal a potential injury publicly, so that hardy players won’t just shrug off impacts that might lead to traumatic brain injury — a growing concern to players, fans, and advocates in the world of football after a series of revelations about the cumulative damage of head injuries in the rough-and-tumble sport.

“Athletes want to hide their injuries, a lot of people want to be the strong player that’s says, ‘Screw the injuries,’” founder told “And while something like a fracture is visible, a concussion can be concealed. We’re trying to bring visibility to an invisible injury.”

Tozuda is currently based out of NextFab’s (@NextFab_PHL) South Philadelphia location. Ben Franklin Technology Partners awarded the early-stage company a $10,000 grant last year.

Nintendo Leans Into Maker Market with Labo

Gaming giant Nintendo (@NintendoAmerica) announced an intriguing product this week: Labo, a fold-together kit for creating cardboard objects including fishing rods, musical instruments, and cameras that connect to the company’s flagship Switch console.

A teaser video for the product didn’t show much of the software interface that will program these creations, but the possibilities are endless: the Switch’s controller includes a touchscreen, gyroscope, and accelerometers, which could make the kit a worthy rival to existing kids-oriented products like Lego Mindstorms (@LEGO_Education). Even more intriguing is the essential premise that gamers will want to use a console to interact, hack, and reconfigure real, physical objects that they build themselves.

Labo is currently scheduled for an April release.

Snacks for the Gig Economy

An intriguing hardware concept for the gig economy: Cargo raised $5.5 millionto develop what appears to be a simple vending machine that Uber and Lyftdrivers can deploy in their own cars.

The technical challenges are daunting — will it be cashless? — but the idea is sound: tasty snacks for rideshare passengers and an extra revenue stream for their drivers.

Papier Machine Goes Pro

Make: Senior Editor Caleb Kraft (@calebkraft) has long been impressed with Papier Machine (@Papier_Machine), a papercraft circuit kit that comes in appealing pastel shades.

Papier Machine has now launched a Kickstarter campaign, Kraft reports, which had already blown far past its modest $55,000 funding goal by press time. That’s doubtless because it’s a solid maker pro product, but the project is also a solid rubric for a clean, effective crowdfunding campaign, with tidy lettering, crisp photography, and effective copy. Aspiring maker pros take note.

Humble Book Bundle: Sous Geek

Learn to cook for geeks, astronauts, medieval marauders, rock stars, and even Alexander Hamilton with this new collection of $400+ worth of thought-provoking cookbooks featuring Make:’s own Edible Inventions and Make: Like the Pioneers! Good through 10:59amPT on Feb. 7, get books on the Instant Pot and cocktail mixology; air-frying and burgers; paleo-spiralizing and bento boxes; and more. Best of all, with Humble Bundle you always decide what you want to pay!

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Hardware cryptocurrency wallet Ledger (@LedgerHQraised another $75 million in a Series B round this week. Cryptocurrency has attracted criticism from many corners this year, but in a goldrush the people making money are often those selling picks and shovels — and Ledger, investors point out, is already profitable.

Speaking of cryptocurrency, startup Myera Group is exploring a sustainable future for the industry by using the byproduct heat from mining Bitcoin to heat an aquaculture system that grows basil and lettuce plants.

Artist Jenny Odell (@the_jennitauranalyzed the economics behind a “free watch” with $7 shipping. It’s a worthwhile meditation on fast fashion, cheap goods, and the mysteries that arise when strange supply chains that bind together very different parts of the world. “Looking closely, we see that our watch is similar to, but not the same, as the watch in the photo: the texture on the band of the actual watch is finer, and the thickness of the border of the watch face is different,” Odell mused. It calls to mind the Atlantic‘s look at online retailers, which we mentioned last week, that advertise goods they had no hand in creating.

A cautionary tale: last year, the maker pros at robotics startup Sphero (@Sphero) were on top of the world after creating a hit toy based on Star Wars droid BB8 — we even mentioned them in this newsletter. But now, following a slow holiday season, the company is laying off 45 employees and pivoting to education from cute rolling robots

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DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison

Jon Christian is the co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection between makers and business. He's also written for the Boston Globe, WIRED and The Atlantic.

View more articles by Jon Christian