Maker Pro Newsletter- 04/24/14

Maker Pro Newsletter- 04/24/14

“It’s getting harder, not easier, for wearables.”

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.

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Maker Faire Shenzhen a “Seminal Event” for Makers in China

An intent young boy works on soldering

An intent young boy works on soldering at Maker Faire Shenzhen.

Shenzhen, China is a world mecca for manufacturing, so it was a significant event, earlier this month, when the city hosted its first full-scale Maker Faire. MAKE publisher (and original Maker Faire creator) Dale Dougherty (@dalepd) attended, along with 30,000 others, and was impressed by how the maker movement is growing in China.

Dale’s report contained a few observations that are particularly relevant to maker pros:

* Chinese makers are more commercially oriented: they see themselves as creating products that can be sold. More personal, purely creative projects may come later, one local observer speculated, as the movement matures and spreads. If so, it would develop in the opposite fashion from the U.S., where hobbies have developed into new business opportunities.

* Manufacturing resources are so widely available in China, and the expertise is so broad, that you may discover that a version of your Kickstarter idea is produced long before you get your thing to the marketplace. This is not just about copying or cloning. Chinese makers “are hungry for new ideas and they can turn them into products faster than anywhere. It is speed combined with efficiency that drives innovation in China.”

* Chinese manufacturers subscribe to an approach, Shanzhai, that is a kind of commercial version of open source: a sharing of knowledge among a highly distributed social network of factories, vendors, component producers, component traders, and design houses. The motivation is necessity, rather than countercultural ideas. 

* Manufacturing giant Foxconn sponsored Maker Faire Shenzhen, and said it was forming a new business unit to work with makers. Other sponsors included PCH International and Huaqiang, which operates the largest factory inside the city limits of Shenzhen. That’s serious industrial cred for makers.

Note: Bunnie Huang, resident expert on navigating the manufacturing ecosystem in Shenzhen, will be conducting his popular advanced manufacturing workshop again at the upcoming MakerCon. Speakers include: Cyril Ebersweiler, Venture Partner at SOSventures; Founder, HAXLR8R, John Park, COO, AQS Inc., Zack Kaplan, CEO, Inventables. Tickets are still available (but always sell out), so secure your place now if you’re a maker pro considering this option.

Bug Labs Proposes a “Dropbox for the Internet of Things”


The Bug Labs vision

* New York City firm Bug Labs is hoping that Freeboard, a modular development platform for IoT, will make building and deploying IoT applications quick, painless, and even fun.

Last month, Bug Labs released the platform’s first module,, which it called a “Twitter for social machines.” (They love those human internet metaphors.)

MIT Technology Review got an early look at the concept.

Speaking of connectivity, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman (@reidhoffman) believes that IoT entrepreneurs will benefit from the rapidly approaching need to closely monitor and conserve dwindling resources — what’s been called the Resource Revolution.

Grand St. Purchased by Etsy


Etsy, the marketplace known primarily for crafts, is getting into hardware and electronics with the purchase of Grand St., an online marketplace that is focused exclusively on hardware and gadgets.

Based in New York City, Grand St. recently relaunched with an emphasis on post-crowdfunded products. The new marketplace has a “pre-order” category, for products that aren’t shipping yet, and a “beta program” that looks further out.

Etsy said that Grand St. will continue to operate as a separate site “for the near term.” The tech blog Re/code categorized the deal as “a small one. It consisted of a mix of cash and Etsy stock, with the total value coming in under $10 million.” 

Fabnami Wants to Simplify the 3D Printing Service


Fabnami (from “fabrication” and “tsunami”) is promising to simplify the 3D services business with a one-stop software solution for 3D printing service providers that offers browser-based real-time manufacturability checks, immediate print quotes, and a full-featured e-shopping experience.

The 3D Printing Technology blog talked to the creator who wants to make 3D printing services so easy that they are “uninteresting.”

A Proposal to Reduce Crowdfunding Scams

Image from GoBe campaign

Image from GoBe campaign

The controversial crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for the GoBe, above, which raised more than $1 million (despite the fact that many critics have said it can’t possibly work), inspired Paul Spinrad (@pspinrad) to float an idea in MAKE that will help prevent future crowdfunding scams: a loose body of makers — Humble Makers Against Crowdfunding Scams — that could issue “seals of non-disapproval.”

Inside Google X


Fast Company spent a day inside Google’s Project X, where “moonshots” like the floating, internet-connectivity-spreading Project Loon, above, are born.

Among the guiding principles: “Why put off failing until tomorrow or next week if you can fail now?” and “No idea should be incremental.”

Note: MAKE caught up with Mary Lou Jepsen (@mljmljmlj), head of the Display Division at Google X Lab, last summer for Maker Camp. Check out the video of our Hangout!

How to Efficiently 3D Print Furniture


Don’t 3D print the whole piece, designers from the Dutch firm Minale-Maeda told a Milan design convention,  just print the connectors, above.

Nike Move Sparks Reassessment of Wearables


The Nike FuelBand — headed for the scrap heap?

Nike’s announcement that it’s laying off 80 percent of the FuelBand hardware team has sparked a lot of cogitating in the tech and wearable communities.

The tech blog Re/code said Nike threw in the towel when it realized it would not be able to compete with the health tracker that’s coming from Apple. Tim Cook (@tim_cook), Apple CEO, is a longtime member of Nike’s board. But Nike’s capitulation also has wider implications for other smart watches and fitness trackers. “It’s getting harder, not easier, for wearables,” said Re/code.

Wired echoed that sentiment, declaring, “Now only Apple can save wearables.”

The boring truth, said Pando Daily, is that Nike just didn’t do a good job making or selling the device.

Maker Pro Tweets of the Week

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Mike Sensese on Twitter
Ben Einstein on Twitter
Massimo Banzi on Twitter
Matt Richardson on Twitter


Maker Faire Bay Area

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.

try 3

Early Bird tickets extended to 4/27. If you haven’t bought tickets yet, do it before Sunday at 11:59pm PDT and save $100.

Connecting makers is essential to continuing the proliferation of new ideas, products, devices and solutions. At their very nature, makers are collaborative and community-minded. The premiere MakerCon brings together the leaders at the forefront of the maker movement. Providing new insights into local and global manufacturing, design, marketing and distribution, even creative culture, MakerCon explores the impact of making on education, business and community.

Working on something new? Consider applying for the Innovation Showcase.

Featured speakers include:

  • Massimo Banzi – co-founder, Arduino
  • Peter Hirshberg – CEO The Re:imagine Group
  • Michael McCool – principal engineer, Intel
  • Yancey Strickler – co-founder and CEO, Kickstarter
  • Taylor Dawson – product manger – FirstBuild, General Electric
  • Scott Miller – co-founder and CEO, Dragon Innovation
  • Carl Bass – president and CEO, Autodesk
  • Alice Taylor – CEO, MakieLab
  • Eric Pan – founder and CEO, Seeed Studio
  • Lisa Fetterman – co-founder and CEO, Nomiku
  • Bunnie Huang – founder, Chumby
  • Katherine Hague – co-founder and CEO, ShopLocket
  • Kevin Kelly – founding executive editor of Wired, founder of Cool Tools

Check out for a full list of speakers and themes.


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.

Rob|Arch 2014 conference, May 14-18, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan


This conference will bring together an international cohort of artists, designers, fabricators, and industry leaders for the purposes of advancing the discourse surrounding experimental robotic fabrication in their respective fields.

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DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in ebook experimentation and content management systems.

One of the places where can be found online is Google+ (which I'm adding here only because I want to see if by adding "rel=author" and "rel=me" to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

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Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

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