Maker Pro News: How Startups Use Maker Faire to Gather Feedback

Maker News
Maker Pro News: How Startups Use Maker Faire to Gather Feedback

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“Building the future of space is this: a unified Earth, working together.”
–Boeing Engineer Kavya Manyapu

Maker Faire’s Secret Weapon for Startups: Feedback

There were countless wonders at World Maker Faire (@makerfaire) in New York this past weekend, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a bolder vision of the future than the next-generation displays made by Looking Glass Factory(@LKGGlass).

The gadgets, which the company Kickstarted (@kickstarterthis summer, use an LCD display and clever optical effects to create the illusion of a 3D object embedded in a block of glass. The effect is entirely unlike a 3D television, giving a vivid sense that there’s an object inside the block. The potential uses are limitless; keep an eye on these guys.

As it’s developed the tech, Looking Glass has employed a secret weapon: every year, they bring what they’re working to Maker Faire to solicit the input of a staggeringly broad crowd. According to Looking Glass developer Alex Duncan(@alxdncn), the input of makers and hackers has formed a core part of the startup’s development.

“It’s a good community in terms of who comes out, in terms of hacking together experiments,” he said of Maker Faire. “That’s how we were founded. It’s fine to show things to engineers, but I’d rather show things to a wider group of people.”

Everyone’s an Astronaut

As an engineer working on Boeing’s (@BoeingStarliner spacecraft, engineer Kavya Manyapu has tackled problems ranging from cockpit layout and astronaut training to spacesuit design and speculative development of technologies for planetary exploration — cutting-edge work that brings science fiction into reality.

But on the main stage at World Maker Faire in New York this past weekend, Manyapu called out for public engagement with the world of space travel. The future of space travel needs to reflect not just the worldviews of experts from the government and private sectors, but also the spacefaring dreams of the public.

To illustrate the point, she pulled up the iconic photo of the Earth taken by the crew of Apollo 17.

“I see a blue marble,” she said. “One with no borders. Building the future of space is this: a unified Earth, working together. You are the future of this new frontier.”

Clothing Inspired by Music

Bay Area menswear maker Eison Triple Thread (@EisonTT), which first made waves by tailoring clothes to fit 3D images of its customers bodies, is trying a new experiment that mixes data with up-the-minute fashion.

This time, the company’s new software imports users’ Spotify (@Spotify) playlists, combines it with its profiles likes and dislikes, and uses machine learning to infer deep trends about the relationships between customers’ musical tastes and fashion sense, from outfit suggestions to color pairings. It’s either next-level artificial intelligence, genius marketing, or both.

The Future of Mixed Reality

After mixed-reality startup Magic Leap’s (@magicleap) underwhelming debut, the question of which venture will come to define the technology is a tossup.

Writing for Inc42Dipen Pradhan (@virgoathmakes the case that it could be Indian headset maker Tesseract (@TSRCTCO). Instead of the multi-thousand-dollar price points established by Microsoft’s HoloLens (@HoloLens) and Google’s Project Glass (@projectglass), the company is working to push its price as low as possible. The goal: to get it into the hands of a creative public who will find new uses for it.

“The MR space provides a lot of opportunities in India, but there are a lot of entry barriers,” said CEO Kshitij Marwah. “So the question arises, how do you democratise MR-based content creation and consumption to ensure access to the masses? That’s the vision we started with at first.”

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

For maker pros, there’s nowhere on the planet quite like Shenzhen – which means that Maker Faire Shenzhen is a unique event. The gathering, which is scheduled for October 12–14, just put out a call for makers.

Google-owned smart thermostat Nest (@nest) bought health-monitoring startup Senosis (@SenosisHealth) — but it tried hard to keep the deal a secret, instructing affiliates not to publicize it. It’s not clear why the deal had to be so hush-hush.

Synth hardware maker Roli (@WeAreROLI), which we’ve written about before in this newsletter, is making a serious push into Dubai retail, calling the Middle East a “really important market.”

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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

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