Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/10/13

Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/10/13

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.”

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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Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward Makerspace Abruptly Closes Shop

434347226_a00a583cd9_b3rd Ward circa 2007, photo via Flickr

Makers, artists, teachers, and members of Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward makerspace are dealing with the sudden closing of that facility. Comments in The Observer as well as on Reddit, and especially on Facebook, gave the impression that the closing was almost overnight, with no warning at all.

3rd Ward, founded in 2006, started as a scrappy warehouse that threw parties to pay for woodshop and metalworking facilities. Later it expanded into a more polished operation with improved woodworking and metalworking facilities alongside co-working space, jewelry making classes, electronics workshops, fashion photography studios, and branded bicycles for members.

A readjustment of their membership scheme, along with inflated costs needed to open and run their recent expansion into Philadelphia are apparently to blame for their financial collapse. That, combined with a recent Fundrise campaign that raised only $375,000 toward their $1.5 million goal, meant the resources simply weren’t there to stay open.

MAKE’s Nick Normal got reactions to the closing.

Intel Sponsorship to Help Fund TechShop Menlo Park Move

Image (1) techshop.jpg for post 43524Intel came to the rescue of TechShop Menlo Park, the founding location of the makerspace chain, which was facing eviction on October 31.

An Indiegogo campaign to raise $250,000 to help fund a move to a new location suddenly rocketed from around $17,000 to $267,000 on Thursday.

At the same time it was announced that the Intel Corporation was TechShop’s newest corporate sponsor.

A joint press release said that the companies now plan to collaborate on a series of workshops featuring Intel’s recently announced IntelGalileo, the first in a line of Arduino-compatible development boards based on Intel architecture.

The TechShop sponsorship is another indication of Intel’s interest in the growing maker movement, a point that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made when he attended Maker Faire Rome earlier this month to announce the partnership with Arduino.

Although TechShop and Intel officials wouldn’t comment on the sponsorship amount, the two companies said that Intel’s sponsorship “solidifies” TechShop’s plan to move and build a new Menlo Park location, offering a new state-of-the art facility that will also serve as TechShop’s company headquarters.

In August, TechShop founder Jim Newton estimated that the entire project would cost $2.5 million.

More on MAKE.

MIT Researchers Demonstrate Self-Assembling Robot Cubes


A prototype of a new modular robot. The technology inside is exposed, and its flywheel has been pulled out. Photo: M. Scott Brauer

Researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have released a video that demonstrates a technology that allows small cubes with no exterior moving parts to propel themselves forward, jump on top of each other, and snap together to form arbitrary shapes.

Known as M-Blocks, each cube contains a flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute; when the flywheel is braked, it imparts its angular momentum to the cube. On each edge of an M-Block, and on every face, are permanent magnets that allow any two cubes to attach to each other.

The video demonstrates how far the team has come.

The MIT researchers are currently building an army of 100 cubes, each of which can move in any direction, and designing algorithms to guide them.

“We want hundreds of cubes, scattered randomly across the floor, to be able to identify each other, coalesce, and autonomously transform into a chair, or a ladder, or a desk, on demand,” said MIT research scientist John Romanishin.

Maker’s Row Adds Furniture Factories

A cast concrete table, with burnished nickel on the top surface and silver leaf applied to the sides, from 910 Castings, one of the furniture factories now on Maker's Row

A cast concrete table, with burnished nickel on the top surface and silver leaf applied to the sides, from 910 Castings, one of the furniture vendors now on Maker’s Row.

Maker’s Row, the factory directory and advocate for U.S. manufacturing, has expanded from apparel to furniture.

The site allows designers to search for factories by locale and production specialty. Furniture factories are further sorted into the stage of furniture making that they specialize in: Ideation, Drafting, Materials, Sample-Making, Tooling, and Production.

You can start browsing the hundreds of furniture profiles on Maker’s Row here.



Boston Dynamics’ WildCat robot

  • Thermostat maker Nest is expanding into smoke alarms, with the Nest Protect.
  • MathWorks has a MakerZone site that hosts Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Lego Mindstorms projects that use MathWorks software.
  • Boston Dynamics released a video of its WildCat robot prototype, showing its best performance so far. The galloping robot reminded MAKE’s Sean Michael Ragan of Eadweard Muybridge.
  • The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the public/private industry group founded in August 2012 as a pilot for a national manufacturing initiative backed by President Obama, has a new name: America Makes. The Institute is based in Youngstown, Ohio.


The Emotional Life of Products


Lockitron’s success in the crowded “smartlock” category will be determined by its story, rather than its technology, according to Marc Barros.

Are you in love with your new product’s features and technology?

Get over it.

That’s the takeaway from a pair of stories recently published by the two magazines that bookend the small business market: Fast Company and Inc.

In 8 Keys to Creating an Emotional Connection Between Products and People, Sam Swisher and Trevor Shepard, founders of the product consultancy Woodshop, argue that the most important job for a new product quarterback is to create an emotional connection between product and consumers.

Some of the things you should be thinking about, in addition to cost of materials and ease-of-assembly: personality, color, packaging, typography, and overall look.

Marc Barros (@marcbarros) makes a similar point in Why Consumer Hardware Startups Fail, in Inc.

Barros urges new hardware entrepreneurs to focus on branding rather than big box retail distribution.

Barros bolsters his point by comparing the real costs of marketing directly to your consumers versus megastore distribution. He advocates taking the higher margins from selling direct and putting them into marketing.

“Distribution doesn’t increase customer awareness,” he writes. “It only fulfills orders for the demand you’ve created.”

The winners in crowded categories like activity trackers, smartwatches, and smartlocks, Barros writes, will be determined by the stories that each company is able to communicate to consumers.

In support of his idea, he quotes Simon Sinek (@simonsinek): “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.”


The Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC) – October 11–13

DARC, to be held at New York University, will combine a DIY/maker event, a day of curated talks, live drone demos, and a participatory tech policy conference.

Expected at DARC: the creators of NodeCopter; CEOs from robotics companies (Parrot, 3DRobotics); Vijay Kumar of the GRASP Lab; Missy Cummings, former fighter pilot and Director of MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab; and representatives from agencies including NOAA, NASA, and NTSB.

Website:; registration:

Special discount available for Maker Pro readers: 30% off.

Promo code: MAKEDARC30 (general admission only).

Engadget Expand Heading for New York City November 9-10

Join the MAKE team at Engadget Expand in New York, November 9–10 at Javits Center and Experience the Future of Technology, the theme for this premiere New York event.

Designed for tech enthusiasts and gadget geeks, the weekend offers an opportunity to hear from favorite consumer electronics luminaries and to get hands-on with some of the latest new devices on the show floor.

MAKE will roll out its hot-off-the-press, next-generation 3D printer guide, featuring reviews of 23 of the newest personal printers, ranging in price from $300 to $3,000.

MAKE project leader and 3D printing guru Anna Kaziunas France will explain the elaborate review process and rigorous tests the MAKE team designed to put the printers through their paces.

The MAKE booth will spotlight some of the top performers, with the review team talking about features that elevated one printer over another, and what the price differences deliver in terms of performance and benefits.

Get your ticket today! $30 gets you in the door for the whole weekend.

Mini Maker Faires

More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

This weekend:

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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