Here’s a look at some of the impressive projects from MakerCon 2015.
Maker Week is well underway and safe to say that MakerCon kicked things off with a bang. There, we had the chance to engage in several lively discussions, listen to industry thought-leaders and visionaries, as well as receive hands-on demonstrations from some of today’s rising startups. As we walked through the historic Palace of Fine Arts during the two-day event, we couldn’t help but note the collection of innovative gizmos and gadgets on display at MakerCon Showcase — which is essentially a mini Maker Faire in itself. From a pancake printer to a smart aquaponics system, the showcase had it all. Here’s a handful of the impressive projects we had a chance to get up close and personal with… (For the rest of you, we’ll be sure to catch up with you at Maker Faire!)
Currently live on Kickstarter, Modulo was founded by former Pixar engineer Erin Tomson as a way to take the hassle out of building electronics. The set includes a series of tiny chips, each equipped with its own little processor (ATtiny841) responsible for the operation and communication with a controller board (ATmega32U4). These modules easily slide right into a Modulo Base that securely holds them in place and electrically links the devices without the usual tangle of wires.
As its name would suggest, PancakeBot allows Makers to print out flapjacks into just about any design one can imagine. Not only developed to inspire, entertain and bring out the creativity at home, the machine has some serious commercial appeal for brands wanting to make a lasting impression. The ATmega2560 based breakfast bot uses a proprietary system to extrude the ingredients as it glides over the griddle, while the combination of compressed air, a special vacuum and an on-board interface helps control batter flow.
Santa Barbara startup Zymbit debuted the first three products within its evolving Internet of Things suite: the Zymbit Orange edge device, the Zymbit Iris interactive display and Zymbit Connect software. The platform is being billed as the first pre-configured hardware and software solution that is a finished, secure, out-of-the-box-ready product for seriously creative Makers and developers looking to get their connected prototypes off their desk and into the market in days, not months.
Born out of his own frustration of wirelessly connecting two Arduino boards, Taylor Alexander went on to invent Flutter Wireless, which not only gained enormous popularity among the DIY crowd but garnered over $150,000 on Kickstarter back in 2013. The $36 wireless Arduino with a half-mile range lets users develop mesh networking protocols and smart devices in an efficient yet inexpensive manner. It’s perfect for robotics, consumer electronics, wireless sensor networks, and educational platforms. Flutter is packed with a powerful Atmel | SMART SAM3S Cortex-M3 processor, while an ATSHA204 crypto engine keeps it protected from digital intruders.
The brainchild of Shenzhen startup EVOL, uArm is a desktop 4-axis parallel-mechanism arm, modeled after the ABB industrial PalletPack robot. The project is comprised of laser cut acrylic or wood parts, powered by standard RC hobby servos and controlled by an ATmega328 embedded custom board.
Kijani Grows produces and installs smart aquaponics gardens for homes, schools and corporate settings. The latest version of its garden kit is driven by a Linux/Arduino controller board (Atheros AR9331 and ATmega2560) that enables the system to remotely detect and respond to physical environments.
Makers Jesse Vincent and Kaia Dekker are looking to revolutionize the traditional QWERTY layout with their butterfly-shaped keyboard that places a greater emphasis on the thumb, lessens the stress on your pinkies, and offers a more natural position for the hand and wrist — something that may prove to be a lifesaver for those suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis. Keyboardio puts keys such as control, alt, delete, shift and a new ‘function’ button under the typists’ palms, all within easy reach of the thumbs. What’s more, the gadget is Bluetooth-enabled permitting users to switch between devices and carry it from one meeting to the next.
Jason Huggins built a robotic contraption capable of mimicking the human touch as way to test and automate new software applications on mobile devices. Programmed with Node.js, Johnny-Five and Arduino, Tapster is entirely open-source and can be configured specifically to a user’s liking.
Future Make Technology
While many of today’s 3D printing products rely on a feed of ABS/PLA plastic that is heated and extruded through a hot nozzle, the Future Make crew seeking to change that with the launch of their 3D pen Polyes Q1. Unlike other devices on the market, photo-polymer ink is spit out of a cool nozzle and immediately solidified when exposed to blue LED light. What this means is no more nasty smells or burns!
Gigabot, re:3D’s flagship technology, gives Makers the ability to 3D print industrial strength, extremely large objects at an affordable price point. With a build envelope of 24” x 24” x 24” and a robust aluminum frame, the machine can construct objects up to 30 times larger than competing desktop models.
In an effort to revolutionize the boombox, one South Carolina startup has digitally fabricated an open-source, Arduino-compatible Bluetooth speaker kit for Makers.