Another year, another amazing at the Maker Faire.
I’ve attended my fair share of Maker Faires these years, so the pyrotechnic sculptures, 3D printing masterpieces, and handmade artisan marketplaces were of no particular surprise. But somehow, every time I come around to the San Mateo fairgrounds, the Faire can’t help but be so aggressively fresh, crazy, and novel. This year, a host of new and intriguing trends kept me on my toes as I ventured through the greatest show and tell on Earth.
Young makers came out in full force this year. Elementary school maker clubs showed off their circuit projects, middle schoolers explained how they built the little robots, high school STEM programs presented their battle robots. It’s pleasing to see how Maker education has blossomed these past years, and how products and startups like LittleBits and Adafruit have made major concepts in electronics and programming so simple and inexpensive that any kid could pick it up and start exploring. Also wonderful is seeing young teams traveling out to the Bay Area from Texas, Oregon, and all these other states, a testament to the growth of the Maker movement out of the Silicon Valley.
Speaking of young makers’ participation, Arduino creator Massimo Banzi talked about Arduino as an education tool for kids to play and tinker, even he never planned to make kid’s toys in his early years. The maker movement has invoked the curious minds of all age, to start playing electronics, making robots, and learning a new language in programming.
While the maker movement made things very accessible to individuals, the essence of creation and innovation also impacted on the large enterprise. On the “Maker Pro” stage, our GVP, Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley), talked about new trends of large enterprise application design, and OAUX group is driving the change to make simpler, but more effective and more engaging enterprise application.
Drones were also a trending topic this year, with a massive Drone Racing tent set up with events going on the whole weekend. Everything was being explored – new shapes for efficient and quick flight; new widgets and drone attachment modules; new methods of interaction with the drone. One team had developed a smart glove that responded to gyroscopic motion and gestures to control the flight of a quadcopter, and had the machine dance around him – an interesting and novel marriage of wearable tech and flight.
Personally, I’ve got a soft spot for art and whimsy, and the Faire had whimsy by the gallon. The artistry of the creators around the country and globe can’t be overestimated.
Maker Faire never disappoints. We brought friends along who had never been to a Faire, and it’s always fun to watch them get blown off their feet literally and figuratively the first time a flamethrower blasts open from the monolithic Crucible. Or their grins of delight when they see a cupcake shaped racecar zoom past them… and another… and another. Or the spark of amazement when they witness some demo that’s out of any realm of imagination.