Maker Pro Newsletter — 07.24.14

Maker News

“The next stage in computing, the next wave, is emotion.”

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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littleBits Connects to the Cloud



littleBits released the cloudBit module, an internet-enabled module that clips into the simple-to-use littleBits ecoverse. It can function in three ways: receiving commands you send it via the web and transmitting them to the other components in your circuit, sending signals to the web from a littleBits circuit, or interfacing from bit to bit across the web. Make: has the details.

MatterFab Working on an Affordable Metal 3D Printer


The MatterFab prototype at work, printing metal.

The MatterFab team, now incubating a metal 3D printer at Lemnos Labs in San Francisco, gave TechCrunch a tour and a status update on the project. The promise: they are going to dramatically reduce the cost of metal 3D printers, which currently can be found only in high-end industrial shops that cater to customers like aviation and aerospace firms.

MatterLab isn’t ready to float a price, but they said they are hoping to start sending out test units early next year.


New “Social Robot”  Jibo Announced

jiboIf you’re following the evolution of personal robots, you’ll be interested in the form factor of the latest one to move onto the launch pad: Jibo, “the world’s first family robot,” from MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal (@cynthiabreazeal). It resembles “a static, but animated, lampshade (with a slightly Hal-like, glowing-orb face)” according to MIT Technology Review. Just one week into its crowdfunding campaign, Jibo has already earned over $1M.

The focus of the ‘bot is not movement, or dexterity: but its social interface with humans.

“The next stage in computing, the next wave, is emotion,” Breazeal told The New York Times, which called the device “something of an alarm clock on steroids.”

A $499 version is planned for late 2015.

Shapeways and Hasbro Partner on Super Fans’ 3D Projects

Additional works by some of the artists already mentioned, plus by Christophe Vidal, who has studied mechanical engineering and design and is a big My Little Ponies fan.

Fan-created My Little Pony characters.

Hasbro, Inc. has partnered with Shapeways to establish the SuperFanArt.comwebsite, which will allow independent artists to create their own versions of My Little Pony characters and sell them in their Shapeways shops.

This could be the start of many similar 3D-printed collaborations between toy properties and fans.

Make:’s Andrew Terranova (@ignoblegnome) assembled a gallery of the new Hasbro/fan toys.

Vacation Alert

The newsletter will not be published next week, July 31, to provide a week’s summer vacation for the editor. We will return August 7.


Reasons to be Cheerful


GoPro: “a great model for hardware startups to follow.”

We’ve heard plenty about how “hardware is hard,” but Bolt’s Ben Einstein(@beneinstein) takes the other side in The Advantages of Hardware.

Einstein drills down on two advantages: 1. People like buying atoms more than bits; and 2. Hardware onboarding is cheap; recurring revenue is valuable.

Connected hardware makes advantage #2 even more valuable, according to Ben.

It “opens up a ton of new possibilities for recurring revenue: feature upgrades, premium service, promotions, automated supply replenishment, data monetization and a hundred other avenues,” he writes.

VC Tomasz Tunguz (@ttunguz) is also thinking positive about hardware, particularly the GoPro camera, which he compares to a typical Software as a Service (SaaS) company. His conclusion: GoPro is “a great role model for hardware startups to follow.”

Your Next 3D Scanner May Already Be in Your Pocket


A Trnio scan by Kasimir Szekeres.

Thinking about buying a 3D scanner? You may already have what you need in your pocket.

Smartphones are starting to emerge as a platform for quick scanning, which could spawn all sorts of 3D printed snapshots and Instagram-like 3D exchanges.

Autodesk’s 123D Catch is already available, of course, but some new entrants could dramatically expand the ecosystem.

A liberating constant: these apps crunch the 3D data in the cloud, which takes a lot of processing pressure off the phone.

One new smartphone app is available now: Trnio, a free iOS app. The blog Fabbaloo gave it a test drive. They said it worked “pretty well,” but what really excited them was the idea of “always having a 3D scanner in our pockets.”

On the horizon: Replica Labs is prepping Rendor, a 3D scanner app that runs on your smartphone (iOS and Android) for a late summer release. The mysterious IHTFP Labs is also working on a smartphone 3D scanner.

If you’ve got big pockets, 3D Systems’ new iSense iPad tablet scanner is now available for pre-order for $499, for delivery in “the second half of July.”

Read more in Make:.

How To

Sell Your Widget on SparkFun

This is interesting reading, even if your project is currently at the breadboard-and-electrical-tape stage.

What would it take to get your project into real saleable, deliverable form? And how, exactly, would you put it on the market?

This tutorial lets you think (fantasize?) about the routes you could take:

1. You manufacture it, and SparkFun buys and resells it; or 2. SparkFun manufactures and pays you a royalty per sale.


From SparkFun’s “How to Sell Your Widget” tutorial.

You can step through the details of both approaches in this detailed document.

Emile Petrone (@emilepetrone), the founder of the Tindie, the market for maker-made products, also recently shared some thoughts on selling hardware products.

Maker Pro Tool of the Week

ProtoSnap – LilyPad Development Board


If you were inspired by Make:’s recent Wearable Electronics Week, here’s an easy way to take the plunge: a ProtoSnap lilypad development board, based on the work of Leah Buechley (@leahbuechley), who, in fact, was featured inMake:’s wearable coverage.

Available in the Maker Shed for $59.99.

Upcoming Maker Faires

Here’s what’s going on during the next few weeks:

And less than two months away: World Maker Faire New York, on September 21 & 22. Why not apply to participate on the Street Team, or as a Maker Traveler?

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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