This past weekend was the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area – The Greatest Show & Tell On Earth. Over the past ten years Maker Faire has expanded from a small hobbyist event to a massive hobbyist event where said hobbyists turn pro and debut their projects that they’re taking from the garage to the manufacturing line. Here are some of those projects that I’m most excited about:
Shaper is the breakout product of the show, calling this thing a ‘smart router’ does not do it justice. Shaper is a hand router outfitted with optical sensors that track special marker tape so it knows exactly where it is in three-dimensional space. The overall movement of the router is still controlled by hand, but the tool does the fine corrections, keeping your router bit on a precise pre-defined line. They like to think of it as “auto correct for woodworking,” I like to think of it as the perfect tool for someone who could never even draw a straight line. I can loosely and sloppily follow the guides on the screen, and the final product will come out like I’m Bob Vila.
The phrase disruption is far over-used and meaningless at this point, but this is the best example of a disruptive product I’ve seen in a while. This product is going to be exponentially cheaper, smaller, and easier to use than anything coming near its capabilities and I am going to be first in line for when it comes out. This type of innovation is what the maker movement is all about.
Electron from Particle https://www.particle.io
Particle (formerly Spark) has been around for a few years now, and they’re a company that makes it very easy to connect your sensors to the cloud via wifi, which was not an easy task. The Electron is a hardware development kit that takes practical connectivity to the next level by enabling people to connect their devices via cellular signal. Where most home-brewed IOT devices are tethered to wifi connections, the Electron will enable tons of new possibilities for connected devices out in the greater world.
These newfound capabilities are impressive on their own, but the true power of the Electron platform will come when you’re ready to scale – cellular is challenging from an engineering perspective, but the really hard part of cellular connected devices is going to scale and dealing with carriers and the entire underlying infrastructure, which is where Electron and Particle will really prove their worth by taking all of that off of your plate.
Initial State https://www.initialstate.com
Initial State fills a big gap in the IOT movement. When most companies are focusing on the hardware to capture data, surprisingly few people are addressing what to do with the data that’s been captured. Initial state recently launched their hardware agnostic data-visualization platform for time series sensor data, a much needed tool for the sensor-obsessed future. With the new dashboard you can visualize data, mine data, and debug your projects – soon you’ll be able to combine other streams of data such as weather data along with your own data to pull together correlations and insights.
SAM is a hardware learning platform that takes all of the hard work out of the set-up. Everything is connected to your computer via Bluetooth, so there are no wires, and all of the programming is drag-and-drop, so there is no code. SAM isn’t terribly unique from a functionality perspective, but it’s appealing because it’s well designed all the way through; hardware and software. I would really like to have a set of these blocks in my travel bag in case I wanted to quickly throw something together or just wanted to play with things without having to deal with a bunch of cables and soldering.