Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More

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Maker Pro News: The Maker Pros of DEF CON, Shakeup at Arduino, and More

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“This is the beginning of a new era for Arduino.” – Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi

The Maker Pros of DEF CON

Hackers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas this week for DEF CON (@defcon), the storied convention where attendees have congregated annually since 1993 to push the boundaries of — and poke holes into — digital security systems.

We watched closely for presentations that exposed vulnerabilities in the types of hardware used by maker pros. The overarching theme is a familiar one to our readers: security should be a core design consideration for any smart product, one that follows a gadget for its entire lifecycle, and never afterthought.

That lesson was laid bare in a slew of voting machine hacks, an exploit that remotely clones security badges, and a technique for unlocking a smart firearm using just a $15 magnet. And that’s without getting into a new attack on two-factor hardware tokens or a flaw in a Diebold ATM that forces it to spew cash.

One of the most pertinent hacks to maker pros didn’t rely on an internet connection at all. In it, a team of researchers demonstrated a trick that lets a thief with physical access to a device pilfer the contents of its flash memory storage device using only five soldered connections. The takeaway? Consider locking down local data cryptographically.

And we’d be remiss not to mention the gadget that stole the whole show: an ingenious robot that cracked a combination safe, onstage in front of a live audience, in just 15 minutes.

Dayton Makers Draw Inspiration From History of Entrepreneurship

Make: correspondent Leo DeLuca wrote this week about how the organizers of Dayton Mini Maker Faire (@makerfaireDAY) draw on the city’s rich legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship, from the Wright Brothers to Charles F. Kettering, the inventor of the automotive self-starter.

True to that spirit, the organizers of this weekend’s Faire have explored the connection between that history, the present-day startup community, and the maker movement. The event will feature a raft of maker pros, from “Make Something” star David Picciuto (@drunkenwood) and traditional industry players from the Non-Ferrous Casting Company to the audio gurus at supplier Parts Express (@Parts_Express) and the maker pro community builders at  Proto BuildBar (@ProtoBuildBar).

Gadgets That Keep on Selling

Veteran IoT observer Stacey Higginbotham (@gigastacey) is known for her argument that a trendy hardware gadget often amounts to little more than a Trojan Horse that allows its manufacturer to turn one-time customers into recurring buyers of products and services.

It’s a jarring model, but there’s no question that it applies to a broad swathe of VC-funded hardware ventures. This week, Higginbotham defended her argument again with a spate of case studies from the embattled Juicero (@juicero) to the Lyft (@lyft) dash light and toaster-oven-slash-meal-service Tovala (@tovalafood).

What do you think: should maker pros strive to sell a timelessly perfect gadget, or an in-process platform that stays open to future purchases? Drop us a line:

A New Beginning for Arduino

Arduino (@arduino) remains the gold standard for open source development boards, but the project has had a rough couple years. First there was the protracted split between its founding members, then a kerfuffle over its CEO’s academic credentials and a debate over the degree to which the organization was upholding its obligations to the open source community.

Those latest tensions came to a head this week when the company unexpectedly announced that a team of original co-founders, including Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi) and David Cartielles (@dcuartielles), have acquired 100 percent ownership and named Fabio Violante (@fviolante) as its new CEO. The story is still in flux, especially with regard to the planned Arduino Foundation, but it tentatively looks like a promising development for the open source hardware community.


“This is the beginning of a new era for Arduino,” Banzi said.

Make: Managing Editor Sophia Smith (@sophiuhcamille) has more on the announcement.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

For some dramatic flair, here’s an inside peek at the French maker pros of La Machine (@lamachinefr) as they prepare a fleet of their signature giant puppets for a performance in Ottawa.

Keeping an eye on crowdfunding, barebones smart doorbell Ding (@dingproducts) raised an impressive $345,000 on the lesser-known platform Seedrs (@Seedrs).

In a successful startup, nothing is as important as learning to be an effective team player and no one knows that better than Maker Faire (@makerfaire) producer Louise Glasgow (@glasgowl). Here’s her Make: guide to organizing and planning a group project.

Chinese dronemaker DJI (@DJIGlobal) more or less crushed 3D Robotics (@3DRobotics) back in 2015. Now, surprisingly, the two are teaming up; the latter company’s enterprise software that it pivoted to after its hardware defeat is now compatible with DJI drones.

Liam Grace-Flood will be traveling the world this year to explore and document the breadth of maker culture and spaces, from people and makerspaces to maker-inflected startups and nonprofits. We can’t wait to read about the maker pros he digs up on along the way.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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


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