Maker Pro Newsletter – 04/10/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 04/10/14

“We’re in the awkward teenage years of technology.”

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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Representatives from Foxconn addressing the Maker Faire Shenzhen audience

Last week, at Maker Faire Shenzhen, global manufacturing giant Foxconn announced that it has set up a business unit for makers.

MAKE publisher Dale Dougherty (@dalepd), who was in Shenzhen for the event, reported that Foxconn’s Vincent Tong said that the company hopes to play an active role in the maker community.

“We have only talked to brands, not makers,” the Foxconn representative said. “Now we work with makers.”

Foxconn’s announcement was presaged by their sponsorship of Maker Faire Shenzhen, which had the theme, “Innovate with China.”

Said Dale, “My bet is that Chinese manufacturers will engage the global maker movement more fully than American manufacturers.”

Silvia Lindtner (@yunnia), who spends a lot of time in China, has a similar point of view. In a recent article, she argued that Shenzhen now displays an open manufacturing culture that is “aligned with the open-source spirit of the global maker movement.”



The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new, much smaller, Compute Module, for business and industrial uses.

MAKE’s Matt Richardson (@mattrichardson) shared his thoughts on the new product, due in June.



Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, at Maker Faire last year.

In a keynote address to a 3D printing convention, the CEO of CAD software giant Autodesk, Carl Bass (@carlbass)challenged the hype around 3D printing, saying that, “We have way overvalued consumer 3D printing and truly underappreciated the value of industrial 3D printing.”

Note: Carl Bass will also be speaking at MakerCon, May 13–14.



The Nike Fuelband SE, one of the wearables evaluated in the Endeavour Partners report.

Also on the deflation beat, Guardian columnist Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur) cited a research report by Endeavour Partners, and the slew of used smartwatches for sale online, to build a case that wearables are a flop.

According to the Endeavour study, one-third of American consumers who have owned a wearable product stopped using it within six months. Of the one in 10 American adults who own some form of activity tracker, half of them no longer use it.

Analyst Michael Wolf (@michaelwolfchallenged the basis of Arthur’s column, declaring confidently that the wearable market will ultimately be bigger than the tablet market.


Flexible electronics will revolutionize everything, according to GigaOm.

Samsung researchers are claiming a graphene breakthrough that could “unlock the next era of consumer technology.”

And if progress towards an Internet of Things seems to be lurching ahead awkwardly, that’s only because, “we’re in the awkward teenage years of technology,” says designer (and Maker Media authorCarla Diana (@carladiana_).


A 3D-printed version of “Carla,” a character from Carla Diana’s recent book, LEO the Maker Prince


Looking for a way to collaborate on a hardware product online? Check out Knowable.

Not interested in sharing proprietary 3D files, like designs for spare parts? Authentise has launched a secure 3D streaming service.



Open Source Hardware Moves Up to Laptops and Phones


“This is not a machine for the faint of heart.”

That’s the way the hardware/software team of Bunnie Huang and Xobs describe their highly hackable, portable Novena computers to backers on the Crowd Supply crowfunding platform. Bunnie’s post about the project on MAKE a few months ago generated a lot of buzz.

It is probably the only laptop that will ship with a screwdriver.

And because it’s open source you can read all about it, as much as you want. You can even pull back the focus and see how it fits into Bunnie’s vision of open source hardware and the future of embedded systems.

That kind of openness is coming to phones as well, with Google’s Project Ara, which just posted a video update on the project, which seems to be pretty far along.


Project Ara deconstructed

MIT Technology Review thinks it might actually succeed.

We’ll learn a lot more next week, when the Ara team hosts its first developers conference.

3D Printing Industry Update

There’s too much 3D printing industry news piling up to ignore. So let’s catch up with some of the big players.

Stratasys has purchased three companies in the last few weeks: first Harvest Technologies and Solid Concepts, which will expand Stratasys’ additive manufacturing services business; then a few days later Interfacial Solutions, which adds research and development in plastics and filament.


Solid Concepts recently 3D printed a legal, metal gun, not as a political statement, but to prove the viability of 3D printing for demanding commercial applications.

3D Systems bought Medical Modeling, a provider of “patient-specific” medical devices.


Speaking of big, Studio Under has developed a large and fast ceramic 3D printer that can easily print out objects like the one above.

Want bigger, and faster? A Chinese company claims that it 3D printed 10 houses, like the one below, in a single day.


For all this activity, 3D printing stocks continue to languish.

In a recent interviewthe 3D printing industry analyst, Terry Wohlers (@terrywohlers) didn’t seem worried.

If 3d printing were to capture only two percent of the world’s manufacturing economy, he pointed out, it will generate over $210 billion annually.

“That’s where we think it’s going,” he said.

Maker Pro Tweets of the Week

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Maker Faire Bay Area


El Pulpo Mecanico will be coming to Maker Faire Bay Area this year.

The 9th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, our “home game” that started it all, is taking place May 17 and 18 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds.


Hey, Maker Pros — MAKE is hosting its first MakerCon, May 13–14, the week of Maker Faire Bay Area.

Over 70 speakers at the forefront of the maker movement will lead the dialogue at the premiere MakerCon, a two-day event for makers, by makers. Experts in digital manufacturing, tool and technology providers, accelerators and incubators, community leaders, and educators, discuss the significant and growing impact of making on education, business, and community. Join the conversation: register today!

Working on something new? Consider applying for the Innovation Showcase or the Pitch your Prototype contest.

Featured speakers include:

  • Brian David Johnson, futurist, Intel
  • bunnie Huang, co-founder Chumby
  • Eric Klein, partner, Lemnos Labs
  • Massimo Banzi, co-founder Arduino
  • Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired and founder of Cool Tools
  • Carl Bass, president and CEO, Autodesk
  • Edward Screven, Chief Corporate Architect, Oracle
  • Emile Petrone, founder, Tindie
  • Eric Pan, founder and CEO, Seeed Studios
  • Jose Gomez-Marquez, principal medical device designer, Little Devices lab at MIT
  • Mickey McManus, CEO, MAYA Design
  • Peter Hirshberg, CEO The Re:imagine Group

Check out for a full list of speakers and themes.


Win a Trip to Maker Faire


Here’s how to win free rides to Maker Faire Bay Area and Maker Faire Rome.

1. Come up with the winning design for the Maker Faire Info Booth. Book your free trip to San Francisco to attend Maker Faire Bay Area. You have until April 14 to submit your design.

2. Then smoke the competition with your entry into MAKE’s Arduino project contest.


You’ll receive $5,000 for air fare and hotel expenses for two to attend Maker Faire Rome Sept. 28–Oct. 5, 2014. The period for submission of applications runs from now to Apr. 25. Click here to enter.

3. Pack your bags!

Upcoming Maker Faires

Here’s what’s coming in the next few months:

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

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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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