Maker Faire 2017


Another Maker Faire has come and gone, the 12th one already.  Unlike last year, Oracle had a booth again at the Maker Faire, staffed by my colleagues and myself throughout the weekend, where we showed of some fun demos.  Here are some impressions, both from reactions in our booth and from the grounds.

The Booth

Empty Booth

Empty Booth

Booth All Set Up

We shared the booth with the Oracle IOT Cloud Applications team who brought their Chocolate Factory and vending machine:

Oracle Chocolate Factory (right) and vending machine (left)

 The Oracle Chocolate Factory and vending machine demonstrate an end-to-end modern supply chain including IoT.

The Oracle Chocolate Factory and vending machine demonstrate an end-to-end modern supply chain including IoT.  It was designed with a part that fails on a regular interval, every 2-3 minutes so that we can demonstrate predictive maintenance in a manufacturing context. It is also reporting production back to the supply chain.  Behind the scenes, it has 3 Raspberry Pi’s and 2 Arduinos with many motors and sensors.  100s of the parts are all 3D printed including gears, tracks, fans and most of the mechanical parts.  The Vending Machine is reporting the inventory levels to the Cloud using IoT Cloud Service. It has a Raspberry Pi controlling it with a DC geared motor and optical beam sensor for each hopper.

For more images of the factory vending machine and 3D models you can visit:

The Appslab Demo’s

We showcased The IoT Nerf Gun and Target:

Our GVP Jeremy Ashley bravely posing in front of the IoT Target with the IoT Nerf Gun pointed at it.

We discussed the build earlier here, but here is a quick recap:

Using an ESP8266 (ESP-12) chip, we were able to mod a few Nerf Guns so they can connect to the internet.  The chip, which is widely available for about $5, is Arduino compatible and has upwards of 10 GPIOs, depending on the model. We hooked up one GPIO to the flywheel motors in the Nerf Gun and another one to a servo that we added ourselves to control the trigger mechanism. The (C++) firmware on the chip orchestrates the launching of the darts by spinning up the flywheel and then pushing darts through the flywheels. The whole mechanism is powered by the on-board batteries in the Nerf Gun, no additional power is needed.

Since the Nerf Guns are addressable on the internet, we were able to add some amazing capabilities to these toys, like voice control and remote management.  We even gave a Nerf Gun it’s own Twitter Account (@IoTNerf) so it can tweet what it is thinking.


The Emotibot:


We discussed the build earlier here, but here is a quick recap:

The Emotibot is an emotion sensing robot. Using cognitive image recognition, this robot can tell if you are happy, surprised or even sad. It will try to match your mood by changing colors: Blue if you are sad, yellow if you are happy. The Emotibot uses a Raspberry Pi as its brain. The mouth is controlled by a servo motor, and the nose is an ultrasonic sensor that can detect distance. When you get close enough, the Emotibot will take a picture to analyze your mood.

And Pac-Man on-a-string:

Pac-Man on-a-string Game

We discussed the build earlier here, but here is a quick recap:

It plays similar to the great old Pac-Man game on a primitive PC screen, but with a modern twist. The game events and scores are sent to the Internet while you are playing the game, and that signal is sent to a tablet to show the Scoreboard and Leaderboard.

Raymond Xie mentored 4 middle-schoolers (Addison, Emily, Yiying, Jack) on IoT topics using Arduino and NodeMCU, and this game box was a final project to combine all the concepts and skills they have learned. The Arduino Mega board is the brain which has the entire game logic, and coordinates with the joystick controller, user action, and LED light patterns. The NodeMCU serves as a network link, so game events and live scoring can be published to a MQTT channel, where an Android app subscribes to it. The Android device serves as the game score interface to display live scores from the game box, as well as display the leaderboard from data saved in an Oracle Apex backend.

You use the joystick to control a segment of 5 LED lights, to move up and down along the LED strip. Joystick UP-DOWN to move around, LEFT to collect gem (hint: middle LED light gets you higher score), RIGHT to attach wasp (hint: timing is important).

I also brought my Internet connected Pokeball as a conversation piece:

Jeremy Ashley showing the Pokeball to some booth visitors

The booth was a tremendous success; frequently our demo’s were mobbed by young and old alike, the Nerf Gun especially was a crowd pleaser:

Me trying to hold it together at the Nerf Gun station

I thought Oracle did only databases or something, I didn’t know Oracle did cool stuff like this.

The comments we received were universally positive, a lot were surprised that Oracle and people working there were involved in creating anything none-database related, comments like: I thought Oracle did only databases or something, I didn’t know Oracle did cool stuff like this.

So now you know, we do really cool stuff at Oracle and we show some of it at the Maker Faire, some of it in our Labs.

Trends at the Faire

The trends are mostly evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  CNC‘s are still trying to go mainstream and struggling with UX, drones are still racing and battling each other in cages and the 3D printer space is alive and kicking.  IoT is creeping into ever more devices, VR and AR are still battling it out and AI is getting ever more creepy.  One demo at the Microsoft booth recognized me as a 46-year-old, 6 feet tall, caucasian, smiling, male (all correct!) in the blink of an eye as I was walking by their camera.  I just hope it couldn’t read my mind as well…

There was 1 product that I would like to mention though: the ONO – The First Ever Smartphone 3D Printer.  If these people can live up to their promises (and that is still a big if, I saw no working product at their booth) this could democratize the 3D printing space.  For $99 you get a resin based 3D printer that produces near perfect results.  The technology seems to be very similar to the Carbon 3D printer.  The big difference is that they use your smart phone as the brains of the printer.  Their resin is sensitive to visible light rather than the UV sensitive resin used in the Carbon printers so they can also use the screen of your phone as the projector.  As a result, the printer is basically just a receptor for your phone and the resin and is dirt cheap.  They had finished prints at the booth (but again, no working printer) and they look amazing.

This voting booth was pretty fun, you voted by walking through the gates, left = Emacs, right = VIM:

Text Editor Voting Booth

Oh, and it turned out that this guys worked across from our booth all weekend, but I only saw him at the end, during cleanup:

The one and only Ben Heckendorn (@benheck)!


Thanks to Laurie Pattison, Erika Webb and Mindi Cummins for organizing and to Raymond Xie, Anthony Lai, Tony Orciuoli, Joe Goldberg, Vinay Dwivedi, Noel Portugal, Lalo Lopez, Antonio Aguilar and Thao Nguyen for providing the demos and helping out at the booth.

Looking forward to our upcoming 2nd Oracle Maker Faire hopefully somewhere in October!



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