Maker Pro News: Multi-Tasking Robots, Making that Matters, the Amazon Apparatus, and More

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Maker Pro News: Multi-Tasking Robots, Making that Matters, the Amazon Apparatus, and More

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If a consumer startup exists, there’s a good chance Amazon is trying to kill it. – Mashable reporter Patrick Kulp

Robot Arm AI Venture Wants to Get a Grip

The dexterous human hand is a miracle of biology, but even the best robot arms are still clumsy and prone to error. Startup Embodied Intelligence, a spinoff from a Berkeley (@UCBerkeley) lab and the Elon Musk (@elonmusk)-backed OpenAI (@OpenAI), wants to imbue next-generation robot arms with the type of subtle tactile intelligence that lets humans brush their teeth and wield tools.

More capable robot arms could be a game-changer from the factory floor to household automation — and the maker pros at Embodied Intelligence believe that it could lead to a world in which nearly all rote, repetitive tasks will eventually be automated.

“If you go to trade shows, you will see robots doing lots of very fancy things, but it’ll just be one thing,” said CEO Peter Chen, pictured above. “We want robots that can do a range of things.”

Makers Develop New Assistive Technologies

At Maker Faire Rome (@MakerFaireRome), coming up Dec. 1–3, one of the major themes will be assistive technologies that help people with disabilities navigate the world. Take the EPTIME wearable, which monitors for signs of an epileptic seizure, or Adam’s Hand (@Adams_Hand_), a modular myoelectric hand prosthesis that moves all five fingers with just one actuator.

And in Boston, the Inclusion Summit will host a 48-hour hackathon in which participants will work to solve problems like making containers easier to open and computers easier to operate for people with disabilities.

Speaking of makers confronting problems in medicine and usability, don’t miss the story of high school student Hannah Edge, who suffers from asthma and developed a portable spirometer to track her own respiratory health.

Startups Struggle with Amazon

We wrote last week about how hard it is for a hardware startup to go toe-to-toe with Apple. A new Mashable report shows similar dynamics at online retailer Amazon, which has aggressively moved against small device makers that sell on its platform.

The company’s Amazon Key smart lock, for instance, which stole headlines in recent weeks with the promise that it could automatically let couriers into users’ homes, is in direct competition with existing solutions like August Home(@augustsmartlock).

“If a consumer startup exists, there’s a good chance Amazon is trying to kill it,” wrote business reporter Patrick Kulp (@PatrickKulp).

How can maker pros set themselves apart when a tech giant moves into their space? Email us at

Maker Pro Cities: Shenzhen, China

Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ), which took place this past weekend, was an extravaganza of creativity and small business acumen. And the show’s theme this year — “Go pro!” — spoke to the city’s crucial role as an incubator for startup hardware products.

For example, the Peruvian Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (@UTECedu) held a design contest that challenged participants to design wearables for use in outer space. A Fashion Tech Workshop showed off the future of maker textiles with instructors Zeng Li Leah and Luke Henderson. And speakers like Wenwen Xie, the co-founder of educational startup MakerBeta, appeared at the Maker Forum to discuss the role of Shenzhen in the international making and manufacturing economies.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

Disrupt Berlin will focus on hardware this year — why it’s hard, and also on demystifying the problems it can pose for startups. “It’s our hope that, through these panels and fireside chats, founders, devs, and investors walk away from the conference a bit more comfortable venturing into the world of hardware,” wrote TechCrunch Managing Editor Matt Burns (@mjburnsyof the event.

Make: correspondent Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchinireported this week on Moabi (@MoabiMaps), a nonprofit that uses technology to map logging and mining infrastructure in order to quantify and fight deforestation across the world.

Venture capitalist Jeremy Conrad (@nomadicnerd) is stepping down from Lemnos (@lemnoslabs), the firm he co-founded, to launch a new robotics company with a former Apple engineer. “There’s no better time to start a robotics company,” Conrad told Axios.

MakerBot (@makerbot) released a new book, pictured above, for educators who want to use a 3D printer to its fullest potential in an educational setting. Even better, the book is available as a free download.

For an inspiring story about how artists can mix a maker aesthetic within existing environments, look no further than this account of maker Martin Hertig (@m_hertig), who was contracted by German venue Jugendkulturhaus Dynamo to build a touch piano on one of its backstage walls.


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
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