Imagining the Future — DIY Style

By Eric Weddington

It’s the beginning of February already. The New Year has started with a bang, with barely enough time to reflect on the past year. However, there have been some exciting things in 2012 that I can’t wait to see continue on in 2013…

Engineers can be a funny group. On one hand they’re the makers of a wide range of technology. But because engineers are, in general, interested in getting the details right, sometimes they can get caught up in the details, with a focus on what should be the “right” way of doing something. One of the privileges of being involved in the open source community has been attending the Maker Faires, put on by Make: magazine, in the Bay Area in May, and in New York in September. The Arduino microcontroller board is a big part of  these Maker Faires, powering all sorts of projects. It’s become popular because it enables people who are not engineers to get involved in making stuff with electronics, allowing them to add smarts to all sorts of things.

What I’ve discovered is that it doesn’t magically turn these people into engineers. They see the Arduino as a tool that they can use to turn their ideas into reality. They don’t get caught up in the details of what is the “right” way, or the “wrong” way, to implement a solution according to their engineering training. They keep their eyes firmly on their goal. They’re too busy creating! During the last year, I have been amazed at all the cool, weird, wonderful ideas that have been thought up and implemented by many in this Maker community. I wouldn’t have thought up half the stuff that I have seen done with an Arduino and our AVR processors. A DIY X-ray CT scanner controlled by an Arduino. FireHero, which has an Arduino controlled propane “puffer” interfaced to a GuitarHero controller. A winner of the California Science Fair used an Arduino to measure foot pressure for diabetics. All manner of quadcopters and UAVs. Desktop 3D printers. Clothing design. And the list goes on. It’s exhilarating to see what’s been done and to think about what people will imagine next! Yes, it’s going to be a fun 2013!

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