Maker Pro Newsletter – 01/09/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 01/09/14

“Hardware startups are looking like the software startups of the previous digital age.”

From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.

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The Make Take on CES

More Cubes from 3D Systems


The new Cube 3 from 3D Systems

The advance word was that this year’s CES would be maker-influenced, and that turned out to be true even before the massive Las Vegas consumer electronics show opened.

Because on the day before the official start, 3D Systems jumped the gun by releasing a flurry of announcements, including two new printers and a consumer-focused platform for hosting 3D-printable content for retail, merchandising, or at-home printing. These new announcements came on top of the news the previous week that 3D Systems bought a toy firm Gentle Giant.

Anna Kaziunas France (@akaziuna), digital fabrication editor at MAKE, was impressed.

“3D Systems has set the bar at a whole new level for 2014,” she wrote.

ChefJet sugar prints

Over the next few days 3D Systems had even more announcements: a ChefJet series of sugar printers, the CeraJet ceramic printer, theCubeJet full-color powder printer, the Touch haptic input device, a 3D photo booth, and a 3D scanner.

MakerBot Grows Its Family

On day one of the show, MakerBot countered with an announcement of its own — three new printers will be shipping come spring: the large Replicator Z18, that boasts an 18-inch build height and 12-inch by 12-inch width and depth; a mid-sized Replicator; and a baby Replicator Mini Compact.


MakerBot announced 3 new printers, coming this spring.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis (@bre) says all three printers will share many new technological capabilities, including swappable “smart” extruders, onboard build-platform monitoring cameras, LCD control panels, auto-leveling beds, and wi-fi connectivity.

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In Other News…


Phonebloks: One of the “incredible” open source hardware projects of 2013

A show like CES is an obvious opportunity to make a splash; we’re also at the end of the first full post-holiday week in the new year.

So last week was a good time to announce that…

*, which provides free collaborative circuit design tools and simplified PCB manufacturing, has been acquired by Autodesk. The two companies had already been collaborating on 123D Circuits, a free online electronic design tool.

OpenBuilds, a new open hardware site, is open for business — aiming to facilitate collaboration on hardware designs.

* The Vegas Tech Fund, backed by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, plans to increase its investment in hardware initiatives.

* Also at CES: Parrot launched a MiniDrone, and Intel introduced its new single board computer, Edison. (For more late-breaking CES developments, check out MAKE’s CES coverage.)

More data and opinion:

* Thermostat-and-smoke-detector-firm Nest Labs is about to close a new fundraising roundInc. believes the investment is significant for other hardware companies.

* Venture Scanner’s market map of the 3D printing ecosystem probably has some companies you haven’t heard of. It contains 157 firms.

* If you’re thinking about equity crowdfunding, you better be thinking big, says VentureBeat.

* New York parts supplier Octopart thinks it knows the future of hardware design.

* A Forbes blogger attended a demo day at HAXLR8R in San Francisco, and was moved to quote MIT’s Joi Ito (@joi): ”Hardware startups are looking like the software startups of the previous digital age.”

* Open Electronics picked ten of the most incredible open source hardware projects of 2013, and eight open source hardware conferences to attend in 2014.

Note: With the success of the MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop, we are launching MakerCon 2014, to be held May 13–14, prior to Maker Faire Bay Area. By and for makers, this conference expands our HIW content to cover areas such as education, makerspaces, and more. A call for proposals will go out in the next month. Save the date for the New York Hardware Innovation Workshop, Sept. 19, 2014.

* There will be no Maker Pro newsletter next week, so that the author can fulfill his obligation as a juror on a criminal trial.


iBeacon Advances Internet of Things


Remember a few weeks ago, when many end-of-the-year lists were predicting that 2014 would see the emergence of mainstream Internet-of-Things applications?

Well, it may already be happening: iBeacon, an Apple technology that allows you to add real world context to smart phone applications, started gaining mindshare almost as soon as the new year arrived. Based around Bluetooth LE, part of the new Bluetooth 4.0 standard, iBeacon provides basic indoor navigation and proximity detection, but, more importantly, it’s supported by Apple’s iOS 7 devices and it works with Google’s Android platform. That’s a lot of momentum.

Many competitors are working with iBeacon technology, but much of the attention has been focused on Estimote’s Beacons; MAKE’s Alasdair Allan (@aallan) advanced some theories as to why that was the case; then he reverse-engineered one.

CES joined the party with an iBeacon scavenger hunt, using technology from Radius Networks. (Alasdair couldn’t resist pointing out that the scavenger hunt could be hacked.)

The Artisanal Entrepreneur

The Economist calls them “artisanal capitalists,” contemporary heirs of William Morris’ Arts and Crafts movement, which flowered in the late 19th century.

We know them as makers, a group that has come to include sellers on Etsy, particularly since the site introduced new rules that allow sellers to have their products manufactured by other firms.


From the Etsy sellers survey. (credit: Etsy Inc.)

That’s why Etsy’s recent survey of 5,500 active U.S. Etsy sellers is a revelation. Among the results:

  • Etsy sellers don’t identify as hobbyists; 74% consider their Etsy shops businesses, and 91% aspire to grow their sales in the future.
  • Etsy sellers are 88% women, 97% run their businesses from home, and they’re geographically dispersed around the U.S.
  • While “outlet for creativity” was the #1 reason for starting an Etsy shop, 68% of Etsy sellers included “supplemental income for self or family” among their motivations; 63% “saw a business opportunity.”
  • Etsy sellers are characteristic of a larger shift to flexible work; 18% sell goods full-time, and only 26% have other full-time traditional jobs.
  • Etsy shops are a new kind of startup that aren’t run by stereotypical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who want to quickly grow as big as possible; Etsy sellers are independent, self-sufficient and want to stay that way.

The full report is available here.

Makerspaces 2 Go


Impromptu making at a pub in Cambridge, Mass.

Impatient makerspace planners: consider a pop-up makerspace.

It’s an option that seems to be gathering steam.

You never know where New York City’s Makery is going to pop up, for example. Last year MAKE found them in a Brooklyn storefront.

More recently, a couple of grad students at the Harvard School of Education conducted four pop-up makerspace experiences, known as Guerrilla Makerspace, including one at a local pub and another in a train station. 

Last month, the creators of Guerrilla Makerspace reflected on their experience in MAKE.

BMore3D, a pop-up 3D printing store in Baltimore, also seems to be having some success, according to MAKE, extending its planned holiday run into January.


Mini Maker Faires

2013 ended with a big round number of Maker Faires: 100.

Maker Faire program director Sabrina Merlo (@sannmer) captured the growth in a post about this exciting global phenom.

Maker Faire Eight Year Growth Slide.001

What’s ahead in 2014? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

Coming up:

Emerging Entrepreneurs Pitch Contest

February 5, 2014

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, 339 11th St, Richmond, CA

Have you launched a business within the last two years? JFK University’s Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership, in cooperation with the Keiretsu Forum and Inner City Advisors, has launched a new competition for entrepreneurs in the Bay Area: The E2 Pitch Contest. This event will connect emerging entrepreneurs with resources, feedback, and mentoring from angel investors and community leaders. Participants pre-selected by the IEL will have 2 minutes to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges. There is no fee to present.

Bay Area entrepreneurs interested in applying should complete the online application.

Application deadline is January 20, 2014.

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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


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