Maker Pro Newsletter — 03.12.15

Maker News
Maker Pro Newsletter — 03.12.15

“A week in Shenzhen is worth a month in the Valley.” — from Cyril Ebersweiler’s 2015 Hardware Trends presentation

From the editors of Make:, 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. Please send items to us at

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Trouble at Arduino

The Arduino Zero Pro from (left) and the Arduino Zero from (right)

Arduino LLC — progenitor of the open source Arduino board — is suing spinoff Arduino Srl for using Arduino’s trademarked logo and graphics. Anyone is allowed to build or sell an Arduino compatible board, but the original developers have kept hold of the trademark itself. This divide is more complicated than shutting down a third-party knockoff, though, because Arduino Srl was started by Gianluca Martino, one of the original founders of the Arduino open source project.

Alasdair Allan (@aallan) explains what’s happening in Make:.

NXP Semiconductors Acquires Freescale

Chip giant NXP Semiconductor is banking on smarter cars by acquiring Freescale, a maker of automobile microcontrollers, for about $11.8 billion.

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, NXP chief executive Richard Clemmer suggested that the buy might have been made with an eye toward hacking threats: “What we’ll be able to do by putting these two companies together is to bring security to the car.”

Sliding Scale

Presentation slides are an art form in the hands of Cyril Ebersweiler (@haxlr8r), founder and managing director at hardware accelerator program HAXLR8R. He frequently sums up his thoughts with an energetic deck, which he takes on the road and posts to SlideShare.

Recently, however, Cyril has outdone himself with a massive 192-slide presentation, Hardware Trends 2015. It ranges far and wide, but never runs out of energy, perhaps because Cyril draws on the more than one thousand hardware startups that HaxlR8R reviews every year.

Slide #44 from Cyril Ebersweiler’s massive slide deck.

Explore and you may discover, for example, that “machine to machine,” aka M2M, solutions are hot (slide #7), or that online to offline pop-up stores are a thing (slide #12), or that the “hardware bridge of death” (slide #24) is something you should be worried about. Cyril also weighs in on required skills for hardware founders (slide #44 above), and what every hardware startup wants but can’t have (slides #152 & 153). Along the way expect a lot of info on — and enthusiasm for — manufacturing in China. Haxlr8r provides a residency there for every accelerator class, based on Cyril’s belief that a “week in Shenzhen is worth a month in the Valley” (slide #164).

Elaine Chen (@chenelaine), the founder and managing director of ConceptSpring, which provides strategic product development consulting services, has also gone long form with her hardware advice, collected in a dense — and free — 69-page ebook that was inspired by her experience working with hardware-naive students at MIT, where she is a senior lecturer.

Frequently, Chen recounts, she would would draw the following picture on a whiteboard to show them how many steps there are between that light-bulb idea, far left, and a final manufactured product, right.


Chen’s book fills in all the details between the steps pictured above. If you’re coming to hardware from software development, it will provide you with an entirely different — and more realistic — road map.

Black Eyed 3Ds


Black Eyed Peas founder recently announced plans to partner with Coca-Cola to launch a venture called Ekocycle, which will manufacture luxury garments made from recycled plastic bottles. also worked with 3D Systems to design equipment to print the plastic fabric. is also behind smart cuff Puls, though in a recent interview he was tightlipped about any crossover with Ekocycle. also recalled a longstanding interest in science and technology.

“When I first travelled to Boston with Black Eyed Peas, everyone else went to see the Celtics play or the mall but I got off the tour bus and went to MIT, where I met Professor Patrick [Winston, MIT’s longtime AI director] in the AI Lab,” told The Guardian. “Every time I went to Boston from then on, I went to hang out with him.”

Customize Modern Furniture with Web-Based Software


Speaking of consumer-oriented fabrication, Arrister’s Configurator is a new tool — currently being Kickstarted — that would let you adjust the dimensions of an object of furniture, click “order,” and then wait for the flat-packed pieces to be shipped to your house.

Tips on Working with Chinese Vendors

China is an attractive location to choose a manufacturer, but production can become a nightmare if you aren’t careful. Petcube CTO Alex Neskin (@AlexNeskin) shared some tips with Fictiv on how to get the best production experience, starting with choosing your factory wisely.

When looking for a production site, Neskin says, there are three elements to keep in mind: reputation, a positive mood among the workers, and a low turnover rate. Neskin also advises Makers to be present on the assembly line to observe the process, test every element of your product to catch errors early on, and to cultivate resilience — not everything will go according to plan the first time around, but a upbeat outlook can make the process much less frustrating.

Create a 3D Physical Model of Anything with Memento


A new release from Autodesk lets you recreate a 3D model of any physical object — be it a fossil, sculpture, or even the Parthenon of Athens. The software is called Memento, a cloud-based service that can stitch together multiple scans or photographs of objects, and create a 3D rendering that can then be translated into 3D prints or web-based imagery.

Once relegated to private Autodesk Labs and pilot partners, the software is now available for anyone to use. Autodesk is courting customers in art, entertainment, science and manufacturing.

Pro Sports Adapts to Wearables

Wearables are making waves in pro sports, with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and NBA’s Golden State Warriors adopting the technology to enhance player performance and possibly extend careers. Data generated from wearables can be used to promote player safety and injury prevention, a priority for team owners who want their investments in players to last beyond the current 3–5 year average professional career.

Another way tech could become prevalent in sports is through virtual reality. “Who wouldn’t want to take Kobe Bryant one-on-one?” asked 49ers CEO Jed York. “I think virtual reality is going to change the way we view, and literally participate with sports.”

Technology could also help pro players themselves better understand game schematics and strategies; facial recognition software might also become present at sports stadiums, enabling arenas to identify fans to better personalize their experience.

Book Reviews for Makers


Check out this list of short reviews of Maker-oriented books, many affiliated with Maker Media. Prominently featured: The Maker’s Manual (Paolo Aliverti and Andrea Maietta), and Getting Started with Arduino, 3rd edition (Massimo Banzi and Michael Shiloh), a volume of practical advice on the platform co-authored by one of the founders Arduino.

The review also includes a wall poster series depicting Henry T. Brown’s 507 Mechanical Movements, which illustrates worm drives, planetary gears, clutch boxes, and so forth, each with a brief description of its function.

Maker Pro Tool of the Week


Maker Pros: here’s an incentive to expand your horizon to include Bluetooth Low Energy — the PSoC Pioneer Challenge!

You can check the details on that link about ten words ago, but basically your project should include the PSoC 4 BLE kit from Cypress Semiconductor. This new development board includes Bluetooth and CapSense, along with a software IDE that makes building for the IoT both challenging and fun.

The prize? One lucky maker will win $2,500 for travel to Maker Faire Bay Area in mid-May. But you’ll have to act quickly, because the deadline to enter this contest is Monday, April 6 (11:59pm PST).

Whether the contest grabs you or if you’re looking to join the budding new community of PSoC Makers, you should take advantage of a program that Maker Faire has coordinated with Cypress Semiconductor and Arrow Electronics to offer readers a discount on the PSoC 4 BLE kit. You can find the board’s datasheet and specifications (and non-discount price) here, and if you’re interested in the kit you purchase one significantly cheaper via this special discount link.


Have questions? Comments? Get in touch with us at

Upcoming Maker Faires

Maker Faire season accelerating!

What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest Faire to you.

Hat tips to this week’s contributor: Jennifer Nowicki.


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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