Maker Pro News: Should Gadgets Expire Like Milk?

Maker News
Maker Pro News: Should Gadgets Expire Like Milk?

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“When you don’t have a legacy business, and you have one core product to support, you can be much more nimble, and also more focused.” — Eero Founder Nick Weaver

Kickstarter Courts Maker Pros, Again

We were big fans of Kickstarter’s “Make 100” campaign, which encouraged maker pros to crowdfund artisanal runs of just 100 units, like the terrarium pictured above. The 473 projects that the campaign attracted hewed simple and elegant, like handmade zines or tickets to a performance.

Now Kickstarter is following up with a similar initiative, this time called All in 1, in which every campaign will be just a week long. It remains to be seen if the company is going to continue experimenting with periodic themes, but a source at Kickstarter tells us that the company is “trying a different spin on a creative constraint”; it’s also interesting to see the company giving extra visibility to small, short campaigns — as opposed to marathon, all-or-nothing slugfests like the Coolest Cooler (@Coolest_Cooler) or Pebble (@Pebble).

Oh, and speaking of Kickstarter, don’t miss Make:’s latest installment of Natasha Dzurny’s (@TechnoChicShop) guide to launching a crowdfunding campaign.

Should Gadgets Come with an Expiration Date?

When you buy the latest connected gadget, should it come with an expiration date, like a carton of milk from the grocery store?

That’s the argument that Stacey Higginbotham (@gigastacey), the ex-Gigaom staffer with a laser focus on the IoT sector, made this week. And it’s not as provocative as it sounds: the best connected devices, she points out, are essentially services wrapped in a piece of hardware — almost like fluid in a bottle — and, like dairy, they tend to go bad after a while.

That can happen when the hardware becomes too dated to run the core service, or when the company simply stops supporting it, like when Microsoft stopped updating Windows XP. For customers of a hardware startup, the problem is even more pronounced: the company might not even exist next year, nevermind still be offering security updates.

Maybe, Higginbotham says, those considerations should be made explicit at the point of sale. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Hardware Startups: You’re Only Young Once

Eero (@geteero) made a splash last year with its Wi-Fi system that promised to reimagine the wireless network technology from the ground up. In a worthwhile new interview with Fast Company, founder Nick Weaver (@nsweaves) reflects on the company’s gangbuster first year, why the company is already slashing prices, and why the stressful early days of a startup can actually be its most flexible, unconstrained chapter.

“When you don’t have a legacy business, and you have one core product to support, you can be much more nimble, and also more focused,” Weaver said.

The Maker Pros of Car Hacking

Former Make: Editorial Director Gareth Branwyn (@garethb2) reported this week on a new guide by YouTuber and Make: contributor Ben Krasnow (@BenKrasnow) on how to hook up a data logger to your automobile’s Control Area Network bus, which is the control system that runs almost all modern cars sold in the United States.

One thing Branwyn didn’t mention is Carloop (@carloopio), a small startup run by two ex-Bosch employees that sells an open source kit you can use to hack your own car’s CAN bus system — either to collect data, or even to manipulate devices on the system that can include, troublingly, the brakes and power steering.

We caught up with Carloop at World Maker Faire last year. “When people first understand the idea that all the modules inside their car are connected on this network that’s completely open and not encrypted, their eyes light up,” founder Alan Mond (@mondalan) told us. “They realize they can actually modify something in their car.”

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:

Edible Inventions author Kathy Ceceri (@KathyCeceri) visited New York’s Toy Fair and reported back on the most hackable playthings for sale. Standouts included ZoZbot (@ZoZbotRobot), the Logo-inspired Primo Cubetto (@primotoys), and the ridable Actev Arrow Smart-Kart (@ActevMotors).

If you want to improve your skills with development boards, Make: books publicist Gretchen Giles (@gretchengiles) makes a compelling case for the “Board Basics” Humble Bundle (@humble), which ends March 8 and comes loaded with guides, including Cuno Pfister’s (@gsiot) “Getting Started with the Internet of Things,” multitudinous projects, and a copy of Make: volume 38.

DJI’s (@DJIGlobal) new M200 quadcopter — aimed at enterprise and industrial applications like fire surveillance and infrastructure maintenance — is a marvel of engineering, with dual gimbals, ADS-B tracking, and an impressive 38-minute flight time.

And on the other end of the price spectrum, Make: Executive Editor Mike Senese (@msenese) reports that the latest Raspberry Pi Zero packs in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for just $10.

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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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