Tag Archives: DIY Movement

Hack the world: How the Maker Movement is impacting innovation

In March 2011, an earthquake and following tsunami rocked Japan, culminating in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. While the government focused on stabilizing the situation, the people of Japan were terrified of radiation, unaware whether it was safe for their families to stay in their homes.

(Source: Sean Bonner)

(Source: Sean Bonner)

A group of Makers out of Tokyo Hackerspace found a quick solution to lack of information by building a cheap and easy-to-use pocket radiation detector using an Arduino (a pint-size computer that’s relatively easy for anyone to program). They began making them, and most importantly, sharing the instructions online for anyone to reproduce. Through a partnership with Safecast, they were able to get the radiation data off of people’s phones and onto an online platform. Within a month, thousands of data points had been picked up, and people could determine whether they should evacuate. Even today, people all over the world are building these radiation detectors, iterating on the original design for new purposes. Fikra Space, a hacker group in Baghdad, has amended the design to track Depleted Uranium pollution in their region.

I use this anecdote as an example frequently as a glimpse into the power of the Maker Movement. A term that’s been widely popularized by technologists as of late, Makers are not necessarily persons with huge engineering prowess. Neither are they hackers with malicious intent. Instead, the term Maker defines a movement combining simple technology with the right culture of innovation and collaboration, to have impact at a scale that most startup founders, corporate innovators, and city legislatures only dream of.

What is a Maker?

Makers represent a subculture of tinkerers, artists, and engineers. It’s a culture that is akin to punks and Goths – it represents not just a style, but a lifestyle. It has crossed decades and countries effortlessly. It is an ethos: a fundamental belief that the world is made better by building, and taking things apart.

(Source: Kyle Cothern)

(Source: Kyle Cothern)

Makers thrive on several things:

1. Finding novel applications of existing technology

They are interested in breaking or hacking things to make them better, more efficient, or just more fun. ArcAttack is a band of musicians using massive Tesla Coils, alongside live and robotic musicians to create a spectacular show of musical prowess and technological innovation. Anouk Wipprecht, fashion designer and former Autodesk Artists in Residence created a Faraday Cage dress for this past Maker Faire in San Mateo, and people watched in awe as she performed alongside ArcAttack as bolts of lightning struck her on all sides without doing any harm.

2. Exploring the intersections between seemingly separate domains

Because the barrier-to-entry to be a Maker is so low (read: nonexistent), new domains of expertise and collaborations are the process on which they thrive. 3D printers, once an expensive technology allowed for the elite few companies that required them and those who knew how to operate them, is now at a price point and skill level that many can afford. Similarly, this technology is being used for everything from printing clothing to live organs and skin. The opportunities are endless.

3. Curiosity and voracious appetite for continued education and Do-It-Yourself

Why buy something when you can build it? Why not learn how to solder? (Think of the possibilities!) These are the fundamental questions that drive Makers. From craftsmanship to electronics, Makers build things that are inherently valuable to them at that moment, whether it’s building a smart coffee maker to building a table. The pride that you feel from learning a musical instrument or a new language is the high that drives Makers to learn more, and do more.

Community (Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, FabLabs, Oh My!)

(Source: Mitch Altman)

(Source: Mitch Altman)

Makers rarely work alone. Instead, they interact with an ever growing global community of hackerspaces, makerspaces, fablabs, and other collaborative spaces to share ideas and resources. Makerspaces have cropped up all over the world to give people access to tools, education and collaboration normally reserved for universities and corporate environments. These membership-based organizations range in size and structure, but share common tools such as 3D printers, CNC machines, electronics components, and more. These gyms for your brain have grown from several hundred to over 2,000 globally in a few short years.

(Source: MakerBot)

(Source: MakerBot)

Makers in collaboration can lead to some advantageous financial results. In 2008, Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer and Zach Smith schemed up a small, inexpensive and easy-to-use 3D printer within New York’s hackerspace, NYC Resistor. Later that year, they released their first version for consumers. 6 years later, MakerBot has sold over 44,000 printers, built a leading brand, and was recently acquired by Stratasys for $403M. A company born out of the Maker Movement, MakerBot has ushered in a new industrial revolution, characterized by collaboration and open-source culture. They’re not alone in this endeavor, companies like Adafruit IndustriesArduino, and countless others are blurring the line between play and profit.

The Art of Playfulness (or, How to Fail Often)

When communities are built on resource-sharing and experimentation, there is considerably less stigma around failing. You simply try again, plus some well-earned knowledge and battle (soldering) scars, along with the thousands of others within the community.

The Power Racing Series understands all too well the educational benefits of failure and have embraced it with a friendly competition. Power Racing Series was schemed up at Chicago Hackerspace Pumping Station: One by Maker and designer Jim Burke. The challenge: build a working electric vehicle, starting with a kids Power Wheels and $500. Race it against a dozen others at Maker Faires all over the country, and compete for both technical prowess and “moxie” points awarded by the crowd for the most creative and ridiculous teams. Chassis’ fly off, cars catch on fire, and general, hilarious mayhem ensues.

(Source: Anne Peterson)

(Source: Anne Peterson)

This race has gained tremendous traction as a friendly competition between makerspaces all over the globe , as a learning tool for engineering and imagination. Makers have competed from i3 DetroitNIMBY, and even MIT. While the teams are competing against one another, they also share knowledge, tools and tech between one another during the race. Currently the races are held at 7 Maker Faires in the US, and they are opening up a high school league to encourage use of the races as a STEM education platform for students.

Companies like Power Racing Series have grown organically from embracing the inherent silliness that is a result of constant, quick-fire iteration. They also understand that it offers a unique hands-on way to learn engineering sans classroom or textbooks. Similarly, littleBits has found a way to teach the basics of electrical engineering with magnetic Lego-like blocks that can produce anything from musical instruments to internet of things devices with a few snaps. Sugru has made an entire business out of fixing broken things with a fun new material with the texture of Play-Dough that fixes everything from soldering irons to motorcycle windshields.

Impact (Produce Locally, Share Globally)

Makers think big. They don’t think in terms of revenue or projected growth, they think in terms of impact. Unburdened by fear of failure or lack of resources, they make things because they are useful, or present a unique challenge. Because of this, and ingrained roots stemming from the open-source software movement, the technology created has the ability to be adapted and used all over the world, outside the bounds of traditional gatekeepers.

(Source: Eric Hersman)

(Source: Eric Hersman)

Makerspaces have permeated every corner of the globe, from Nairobi to Nicaragua, allowing access to shared resources not just within their individual spaces, but across borders. Just as Bre Pettis and team sought to solve the problem of expensive 3D printers, Makers are building things that are equally useful to them, and their communities.

BioCurious, a community of biohackers (yes, that’s a thing) in the Bay Area has found a way to make real vegan cheese by engineering yeast, raising over $37k on Indiegogo to fund the project. Two years prior, 4 girls in Lagos debuted a urine-powered generator at Maker Faire Africa, which provides 6 hours of electricity for every Liter of urine. While both projects are prototypes, both are reactions to clear, yet strikingly different needs of the individuals and communities involved.

Arduino, the pint-sized computer from Italy, is a tool for making an open-source micro-controller board and development environment that was inexpensive, cross-platform, and easy-to-use. Founder Massimo Banzi has succeeded in this endeavor, as Arduino boards have become the micro-controller of choice for Makers, and are used to power a variety of devices, from the previously mentioned bGeigie Nano to a variety of internet-of-things devices. The fact that Arduino is open-source allows anyone to iterate on the boards, whether creating smaller versions for wearables, or printing your own on paper.

DIY Drones, a website started by former Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, sought a way to bring UAVS (Unmanned Arial Vehicles) from military to hobbyists. In a few years he’s been able to bring together an impressive community of Makers building drones and drone parts for a variety of purposes. Matternet has taken this movement and applied it to a very specific problem: the 1 billion people in the world that do not have access to all-season roads. This means, even though many of them have advanced telecommunications infrastructure, they cannot get food of medicine during an emergency. Founder Andreas Ratopolous saw the potential in UAVs far beyond what was being explored by hobbyist and has turned it into a viable business with massive impact.

What’s Next for the Maker Movement?

The Maker Movement has garnered a lot of attention over the last 5 years, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Hackerspaces and makerspaces, though great places to learn and innovate are difficult to scale, and can come with a host of organizational and cultural problems. Though there are a whole host of success stories of profitable business by Makers, most of the innovation is still culturally insulated and doesn’t ever make it to a business. Large brands have been attempting to leverage the Maker community to encourage internal innovation, but with little success. Why? By being exactly what the Maker moment loathes: large, secretive, and profit-driven.

The Maker Movement needs bridges, people who are passionate about everything that is at the core of the culture who are able to connect Makers to each other, and to the resources to translate ideas into tangible products.

As humans, we’re made to make stuff. It’s a fundamental part of our survival. The Maker Movement has built a culture on that core belief, and the creativity that it has unleashed has massive potential for the future of innovation across all domains, turning anyone from an engineer to a large organization into an entity capable of astronomical innovative potential.


Written by Madelynn Martiniere, this article was previously published on October 27, 2014 on Medium. 

DIY by the numbers: Why the Maker Movement is here to stay

Throughout the world, millions of engineers, Makers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs and innovators are fueling what has been dubbed as the next “Industrial Revolution.”


“The next Industrial Revolution is right around the corner, and it’s going to be bigger than the Internet — or so says a growing army of hackers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs,” USA Today’s Tyler Wells recently penned in a piece detailing the rise of DIY culture, contributing its emergence to the low-cost, high-imagination level of makerspaces popping up across the country.

In the United States alone, there are approximately 135 million adult Makers — that’s well over half (57%) of the American population ages 18 and up — not including children and teens both interested in STEM and tinkering. Evident by the plethora of Maker Faires, makerspaces and other hubs spanning across the nation, this segment is expanding rapidly in size and economic heft. In fact, did you know the Maker Movement pumps roughly $29 billion into the economy each year? What’s even more impressive is that these figures will surely grow as more and more of the population is introduced to and begins to embrace the DIY culture.

“With the right motivation and time on your hands, you can now go through your own personal industrial revolution in 90 days, and can launch a company or product within those 90 days,” TechShop CEO Mark Hatch explains. Furthering the Techshop CEO’s belief, Gartner’s Jim Tully recently projected that by 2018, nearly 50% of the Internet of Things solutions would be provided by startups which are less than three years old.

Martha Stewart, who recently demonstrated her passion for the growing drone community, has also emphasized the importance of the movement time and time again. The queen of DIY revealed, “The Maker spirit is vital to our economy. In the U.S., 28 million small businesses create nearly two out of every three new jobs and employ half the private sector workforce. That’s why I believe it’s so important to support what they do. After so many years of seeking and spotlighting these creative entrepreneurs, I am excited that this movement has finally come to the forefront of American culture.”

Yet, the Maker Movement isn’t only limited to hobbyists and engineers but has transcended well beyond the walls of the 200-plus hackerspaces and labs. Not only is the notion of DIY being seeded and nurtured by Makers, it is in full blossom throughout the world at rapid pace, ranging from consumer products and mainstream retail to manufacturing and consumer goods.


These statistics are a mere testament to the emergence of the movement. Hear ye hear ye, a renaissance is underway!

  • In 2013, there were 100 Maker Faires around the world including its two flagship events in the Bay Area and New York and 93 worldwide mini-faires.
  • There were over 280,000 Maker Faire attendees in total last year, with a 62% rise in attendance from 2009 to 2013.
  • Around 70,000 people headed to World Maker Faire in 2013, with 47% of them being new attendees.
  • The White House held its inaugural Maker Faire in 2014. “Today’s D.I.Y. is tomorrow’s ‘Made in America.'”
  • MAKE Magazine subscriptions are up to 125,00 and growing at a rate of 20% annually.
  • There are now over 200 hackerspaces across the United States. (New York Times, May 2013)
  • There approximately 350 Fab Labs spanning across 40 countries. (World Bank, August 2014)
  • 3 million people pledged over $480 million in crowdfunding projects in 2013. (The Next Web, January 2014)
  • The world’s crowdfunding sites reached close to $5 billion in transactions last year. (Forbes, April 2013)
  • Since its launch in 2009, more than $116 million has been raised for over 1,400 technology projects — a number of which have been hardware gadgets powered by Atmel
  • By 2025, crowdfunding investment market is projected to reach $93 billion. (PBS, December 2013)
  • The 3D printing market is projected to be worth $8 billion by 2020 (MarketsandMarkets, November 2013)
  • World demand for 3D printing is projected to increase more than 20% per year to $5 billion in 2017. (Reports and Reports, December 2013)
  • Worldwide shipments of 3D printers priced less than $100,000 grew 49% in 2013, reaching a total of 56,507 units. (Gartner, October 2013)
  • The U.S. market for 3D printer manufacturing will reach $1.4 billion in 2014, attaining a CAGR of 22.8% from 2009 to 2014. (Forbes, August 2014)
  • 3D printers will grow from a $288 million market in 2012 to $5.7 billion in 2017, attaining an 81.9% CAGR. (Forbes, August 2014
  • Much of the growth in 3D printing from 2014 to 2020 will come from the healthcare and aerospace industries. (MarketsandMarkets, November 2013)
  • 67% of manufacturers are currently implementing 3D printing either in full production or pilot and 25% intend to adopt 3D printing in the future. (ForbesAugust 2014)
  • 48% of large manufacturers plan on returning production in the United States. (BCG, April 2012)
  • About 14% of U.S. companies definitely plan to move some of their manufacturing back home. (Wall Street Journal, July 2014)
  • Chris Anderson estimates that the DIY Drone community currently boasts well over 15,000 drones, compared to just 7,000 “professional” drones in use worldwide by military forces.
  • Etsy has 875,000 shops with 13,000,000 items and out of those, 2,900,000 items sold monthly. (BitRebels, June 2012)
  • There are also 15 million DIYers in over 150 countries on Etsy with 690,000 new members joining each month. (BitRebels, June 2012)
  • It was estimated in mid-2011 that over 300,000 official Arduinos had been commercially produced, and in 2013 that 700,000 official boards were in users’ hands. (Medea, April 2013)
  • Distributors estimate that over one million Atmel powered Arduinos have been sold since 2005. (Designboom, September 2013)

As Arduino’s Michael Shiloh explained, “It [Maker Movement] is sort of like cooking. You don’t need to be a chef to cook, but almost everyone can cook something.” Without question, the Maker Movement has already and will continue to thrive in our DIY-centric culture. In time, we can surely expect to see Makers shape our future — one project at a time.

Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens this week for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire. Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects. See you soon!

Atmel @ Maker Faire Trondheim

It’s official! Trondheim, home of AVR architecture, has officially hopped onboard the Maker Movement train and is going full steam ahead. This year, the region has seen the emergence of Makerspaces, coworking spaces and of course, its first Maker Faire. The inaugural Maker Faire Trondhiem kicked off in the heart of the city on August 29-30th, smack dab in the middle of Trondheim’s town square. Over 70 projects were on display, a majority of which powered by Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs).

From cycles and contraptions to swarming robots and invisible mosquitos, this year’s event had it all. Reporting for MAKE Magazine, Alasdair Allan highlighted some of these Atmel based creations, among a number of others, that generated some buzz from attendees.

Now, here’s a look back at the event in photos.













As one Maker Faire comes to an end, another is set to begin. Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens later this month for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire. Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on Arduino and Arduino-related projects. See you soon!

Maker Movement making a mark

With the World Maker Faire just 42 days away, the Maker Movement continues to create headlines across the globe. The drive to customize, create and innovate is becoming a modern mindset adopted by everyone, ranging from students and startups to celebrities and Fortune 500 brands.

“The next industrial revolution is right around the corner, and it’s going to be bigger than the Internet — or so says a growing army of hackers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs.” Writing for USA TodayTyler Wells penned a piece detailing the rise of DIY culture, contributing its emergence to the low-cost, high-imagination level of makerspaces popping up across the country. “These massive fabrication facilities are like a cross between a business incubator and a manufacturing plant, with sprinklings of academia and community spirit thrown in for good measure.”


The convergence of various forces — a growing community, enhanced visualization, new applications, greater access to tools and increased connectivity — is fueling Makers to create gizmos and gadgets never before conceived, many of which are appearing on display at Maker Faire events throughout the world and crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This new mindset is enabling everyone to embrace their inner tinkerer. Today, the everyday Maker has the ability to turn any ordinary object into an Internet-connected device with platforms, such as littleBits’ recently-unveiled cloudBit kit.

“With the right motivation and time on your hands, you can now go through your own personal industrial revolution in 90 days, and can launch a company or product within those 90 days,” explained TechShop CEO Mark Hatch. Furthering the Techshop CEO’s belief, Gartner’s Jim Tully recently projected that by 2018, nearly 50% of the Internet of Things solutions would be provided by startups which are less than three years old.

The speed at which today’s Maker’s can go from idea to prototype is absolutely thrilling. “The skill level required to produce a usable prototype or usable object has dropped precipitously just in the last five years,” Hatch added. Even more so, the shared makerspace is enabling for innovation to occur at an incredibly low cost. Wells elaborates upon Hatch’s comments around the movement, writing that “most entrepreneurs are able to cut their development costs by 98% through use of a shared space platform.”


Though, it must be said that the Maker Movement would not be garnering so much attention without the loyal and devoted DIY community. Hatch tells USA Today that the Maker Movement was a “community on steroids,” and the devotion to the ideal is something to behold. Of course, this bond between creator and craft will be on full display at next month’s World Maker Faire in New York City.

“The catalog of success stories is proof enough: The Square credit card reader, Pebble smartwatch, Coin all-in-one credit card and the MakerBot 3-D printer all came from makerspaces in different parts of the country.” The thing that makes the Maker Movement a real revolution, not just a passing fad, is the confluence of cheap manufacturing, cultural entrepreneurship and simple economics.

“Collectively, these forces are democratizing innovation,” the USA Today article notes. This convergence has paved the way for a number of Atmel-powered gizmos and gadgets to hit the market, several of which have even been successfully funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In addition, the market has seen the emergence of lesser-known projects, ranging from battery-powered skateboards and low-cost irrigation systems for impoverished farmers to DIY smartphones and 3D printing pens.

But it’s not just about startup costs. Innovation itself is undergoing a fundamental shift, as major corporations like Disney, GE, Ford and even Atmel are now sponsoring Maker Faire events, collaborating with existing makerspaces or building their own to cultivate new ideas. In addition, a number of universities and government agencies are also getting into the action, which was evident by this year’s White House Maker Faire.

To further attempt to ingrain the Maker Movement within society, Noha El-Ghobashy of Fast Company believes the Maker Movement is reenergizing our youth to enter into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The author writes that newfound “curiosity about how the world works and an appreciation of how determination and excitement can help solve real-world challenges.”

Lo’ and behold, the Maker Movement is clearly beginning to take hold within certain portions of our culture. With a creative and determined mindset, the possibilities for invention are boundless. Mark Hatch concludes that the Maker Movement community is making a serious impact and, “we’ve only just started.”

Maker Movement continues to converge art and tech

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Kendra North reveals that traditional institutions like museums and colleges are now creating new programs and spaces to enable a greater convergence of both art and technology. This “new industrial revolution” is combining the spirit of the old shop class with modern-day technology in do-it-yourself spaces.


“The Maker Movement and digital media and coding are revitalizing the arts,” stated Christopher Amos, Director of Educational Media and Technology at Carnegie Hall. “Digital music, videos, GIFs, and memes are just some of the new ways that art is being created and shared.”


“We want people to think of themselves as creators,” explained Chris Lawrence, senior director of Hive Learning Network. “There’s an opportunity to advance that kind of thinking when art and the Maker Movement intersect.”

According to North, just some of the latest institutions to incorporate the Maker culture include:

  • New Museum in New York has created New Inc, the first museum-led incubator that’s somewhere between a corporate environment, a tech lab, and a cluttered art studio.
  • Johns Hopkins University is working toward opening an incubator for technology and the arts led by Thomas Dolby, a digital musician known for his 1980s pop song “She Blinded Me With Science.”
  • Mozilla’s Hive Learning Network, a consortium of organizations in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Toronto, provides programs for young Makers to explore technology and digital media to create something whimsical. Embodying true DIY spirit, the Hive NYC recently co-hosted a high school “Maker Prom” where students could create anything from digital music scores to LED corsages.

Want to read more? The Christian Science Monitor also explored the emergence of the DIY revolution earlier this month. Read the entire article here.