Maker Pro News: Quirky Reboots, Lawyers for Maker Pros, and More

Maker News
Maker Pro News: Quirky Reboots, Lawyers for Maker Pros, and More

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“The real power is not with us, but how it works when we give it to other people.” –Field Ready Co-Founder Dara Dotz

After Bankruptcy, Quirky Aims for a Reboot

Back in 2015, promising invention platform Quirky (@Quirky) fell on hard times and filed for bankruptcy. But now, nearly two years down the road, the company appears to be positioning itself for a reboot — with a new president and, hearteningly, an emphasis on honoring royalty payments and making right with previous customers as it moves forward.

This information comes from a Wall Street Journal report last week, which in turn prompted Quirky to publish a press release confirming the relaunch. The release said the company is working on a new business model, but fell short of specifying what that model might be.

“We can’t tell you how much you mean to us,” wrote newly-appointed president Gina Waldhorn (@gwaldhorn) in an email to Quirky customers. “Well, actually we can. You mean a lot.”

How Maker Pros Can Help Disaster Areas

Field Ready (@FldRdy) is an inspiring nonprofit that draws on maker skills to provide humanitarian relief to disaster areas and communities in need. In one case, they worked with students at the Imperial College of London (@imperialcollege) to develop an app that helped relief workers create connections between mismatched water pipes.

In a new interview with Make: Contributing Editor DC Denison (@dcdenison), Co-Founder Dara Dotz (@flylikeagirl42) talks about her work, how maker pros can help the needy, and how to get involved.

“The real power is not with us,” Dotz said, “but how it works when we give it to other people.”

FrogVentures’ Bet on Small Hardware Pays Off

Design consultancy Frog (@frogdesign) raised eyebrows in 2014, when it created a venture design arm that injected money into a range of maker pro startups, including smart hardhat GuardHat (@GuardHat) and home draft beer system Fizzics (@FizzicsGroup). But the experiment seems to be paying off: last year, Frog portfolio company LQD WiFi (@LQDWiFi) was bought by telecom giant Verizon for an undisclosed sum.

In a new interview with Fast Company, Frog design head Ethan Imboden (@Imboden) talks about why the firm has banked on early-stage startups and how it’s forced the company to reevaluate what design means.

“We’ve moved toward system and experiential engagement over long periods of time with our customers,” Imboden said.

Attorneys Weigh In: What Should Makers Know About the Law?

Adafruit (@adafruit) sat down this week with attorneys Marty Schwimmer (@mschwimmer) and Jordan Garner for a wide-ranging, yet accessible conversation about legal issues — particularly patents and ownership — that are likely to confront makers and maker pros.

The video is long, but it’s a worthwhile watch because the participants keep it accessible for non-lawyers with lively anecdotes about the mini-robot Bristlebots (@BristleBots) and even animated classics Akira and Spirited Away.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Make: Founder Dale Dougherty (@dalepd) caught up with RepRap (@reprap) developer Josef Prusa (@josefprusa) last week at SXSW (@sxsw). Prusa is a veteran maker pro — he dropped out of college eight years ago to bootstrap his company, Prusa Research, into a 100 person company — and his chat with Dougherty, as you’d imagine, is worthwhile.

Oculus (@oculus) Head of Product Design Caitlin Kalinowski (@kalinowski007), formerly of Apple, shared riveting details this week about the highly iterative design process that led to the controllers that accompany the Rift virtual reality headset. The first step? Choose which features are non-negotiable, and stick with them.

Biohackers at the Open Insulin Project are working to create an open source alternative to the existing insulin production patents, which have drawn on for nearly a century. The project is a collaboration between individual researchers and Arcturus BioCloud (@arcturusbio), a biotech startup that provides DNA synthesis services.

Speaking of biohacking, check out Biohacking Safari’s (@BHsafari) roundup of labs that are using 3D printing in bio projects, from London BioHackspace (@LondonBioHack) to Counter Culture Labs (@CountrCultrLabs).

Tomorrow, 300 makers will gather in Albany, NY, to discuss topics including the relationship between manufacturing, industry, and the maker movement at the New York State Maker Summit. We hope to share updates next week.

You might have already binge-watched The Great British Bake Off, the good-natured baking show that’s captured hearts and minds far beyond the United Kingdom. But competitor Andrew Smyth has an impressive day job as an aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce.

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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


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