Tag Archives: MakerCon

11 projects we saw and loved at MakerCon


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!)

Modulo

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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.

PancakeBot

Pancake

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.

Zymbit

Zymbit

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.

Flutter Wireless

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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.

uARM

UARM

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

Kijani

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.

Keyboardio

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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.

Tapster

Tapster

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

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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

Gigabot

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.

DomeCandy

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In an effort to revolutionize the boombox, one South Carolina startup has digitally fabricated an open-source, Arduino-compatible Bluetooth speaker kit for Makers.

Zymbit unveils its pre-configured hardware and software IoT platform


Zymbit launches the first pre-configured hardware software platform for building, connecting and publishing IoT projects.


To kick off Maker Week, Zymbit has unveiled the first three products within its integrated Internet of Things (IoT) suite: the Zymbit Orange edge device, the Zymbit Iris interactive display and Zymbit Connect software. As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the platform is the first pre-configured hardware and software solution that is a finished, secure, out-of-the-box-ready product allowing seriously creative Makers and developers to get their connected prototypes off their desk and into the market in just days, not months.

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“Like the motherboard was to personal computing, Zymbit Orange is to the IoT market,” said Phil Strong, CEO of Zymbit.  “We’re giving Makers the first pre-packaged hardware and software platform built upon open components, so they can skip the painful prototype stage and start acquiring real world data and publishing it securely in a day. Zymbit takes care of the tough technology problems freeing seriously creative people to focus on bringing their IoT ideas to market quickly.”

The newly-revealed platform is comprised of three components:

  • Connectivity software simplifies the connection and sharing of secured data and the management of remote devices. Its service enables users to SSH to their gadgets, whether they are on a desk or across the country. Publishing through Zymbit’s Pub/Sub Engine lets Makers collect and share data one-to-one or one-to-many, with or without subscriber authentication.

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  • Orange hardware makes it super easy to customize and interact at the edge of the network for data acquisition and new user interfaces by integrating all essential functions onto a single, Atmel packed motherboard. This includes an Atmel | SMART SAM L21 CPU for device authentication, power and communications, a SAM D21 MCU for I/O applications, an ATECC508 crypto engine for enhanced security and an ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi controller. Ideal for those creating next-gen projects, the modular board is compatible with Atmel Xplained Pro wingboards, Arduino shields, Raspberry Pi B+, as well as ZigBee, cellular and POE options.

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  • Iris offers a new way to interact with the Internet and physical world through color, touch and scale. This unit features one 128×64 OLED display, four 96×48 OLED soft keys and a 9×9 LED matrix with a fully-equipped RGB perimeter to indicate high-level conditions.

What’s nice is that Zymbit eases the complexity of getting an idea to market by leveraging open technology (such as the incredibly popular Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Linux), open developer communities (GitHub), and open application communities to encourage the quick expansion of smart ideas and products.

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At the moment, the Santa Barbara-based startup is devising an open architecture product with enough flexibility to be suitable for most applications, from a single installation to a global deployment. Meanwhile, with the emergence of more connected gizmos and gadgets, security remains a less visible but very real barrier to mass IoT adoption. In an effort to combat these worries, Zymbit addresses privacy with a multi-level security architecture that includes silicon, hardware and software.

In line with their announcement, the company has also launched a contest to find the top five most inspiring and impactful IoT projects. Makers are encouraged to post their concepts to the Zymbit website, while the selected winners will each receive the first five Zymbit Orange devices to scale their projects.

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Interested? Head over to Zymbit’s official site to learn more, and don’t forget to come swing by our Maker Faire Bay Area booth for a hands-on demo of the platform.

A sneak peek into Maker Week


And so, the road to Maker Faire begins! Here’s a closer look at what you can expect from Atmel all week. 


Maker Faire season is officially underway and we’re just days out from the 10th annual flagship event here in the Bay Area. In 2014, we saw more than 1,100 Makers and 130,000 attendees pack the San Mateo Event Center for two days of innovation, with countless visitors flocking our booth and congregating around other Atmel-driven projects. And rightfully so, as we continue to remain at the heart of the Maker community, powering everything from highly-popular Arduino boards to 3D printers to open-source robots.

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Testament to that, we have plenty of demos, discussions and more planned for the days leading up to and during Maker Faire Bay Area. Here’s a rundown of who and what you can expect to see in the coming week!

MakerCon, Tuesday May 12-13th, Palace of Fine Arts

MakerCon is a conference by and for the leaders of the Maker Movement. This event examines the impact of DIY culture on local and global manufacturing, design, workforce development and education, as well as provides valuable, practical insights around its role in the science, business and technology fields.

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With the emergence of easy-to-use boards like Arduino, a growing number of Makers are producing systems faster than ever before, dramatically reducing costs and headaches often associated with starting a product. However, once a DIYer is ready to promote their projects for funding or potential commercialization, how can they generate the awareness and attention required for success? In response to that common conundrum, Sander Arts will explore how to take a project from a mere idea to mass market as part of the conference’s Marketplace breakout session on Wednesday, May 13th at 3:30pm PT. In his presentation, Atmel’s VP of Marketing will address how entrepreneurs can go from ‘Makerspace to Marketplace,’ turning their Maker-board prototype into a viable business through digital marketing platforms.

AVR Freaks Meetup, Thursday, May 14, San Mateo Marriott

What do Arduino, MakerBot, 3D Robotics, Sphero and other major names throughout the Maker Movement all have in common? They began with on an AVR microcontroller. After all, it’s no wonder everyone from hobbyists to aspiring entrepreneurs have turned to the versatile family of 8- and 32-bit MCUs to bring their creations to life. Paying homage to its legacy within the DIY community, Atmel is bringing together these likeminded tinkerers, Makers, and most importantly, AVR fans for an inaugural pre-Maker Faire AVR Freak Meetup. Participants will have the opportunity to hop aboard the Tech on Tour big rig and get their hands on the latest and greatest projects from avid AVR users, enthusiasts and loyalists, in addition to mingle with Atmel’s own esteemed panel of experts, snap a selfie with AVR Man and pick up some swag. Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, AVR Freak at heart Massimo Banzi will be in attendance, too.

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Beyond that, attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up for a Lunch n’ Learn training session, which will guide participants into becoming an “Atmel MCU Designer in One Hour” at 11am PT. Seats are limited, and yes, registration is required!

FRIDAY@MakerFaire, Friday, May 15, San Mateo Event Center

New to the program this year is exclusive, early access to show (and tell) from 1pm to 7pm PT. FRIDAY@MakerFaire is designed specifically for supporters and advocates of the Maker Movement to get focused time with Makers ahead of the DIY craziness that is Maker Faire Saturday and Sunday. This is a ticketed event for attendees interested in taking advantage of the preview opportunity. 

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Maker Faire, Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, San Mateo Event Center

Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and sharing what they can do. It’s a venue for Makers to exhibit examples of their work and interact with others about it, while in a dynamic setting. Now in its 10th year, this flagship event will be home to thousands of projects, a number of which driven by an Atmel MCU. During the two-day show, visitors will be able to get a firsthand look at some of the Makers who’ve successfully taken their idea from the ‘Makerspace to Marketplace’ inside the Atmel booth (#2223), including:

Arduino

Arduino

Probably doesn’t warrant much of an introduction. It’s Arduino, come on! This open-source electronics platform is smack dab in the middle of the Maker Movement.

Qtechknow

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The question is, what can’t this 14-year-old innovator do? Aside from changing the world one board at a time, CEO Quin Etnyre has already taught classes at MIT, received multitudinous awards, partook in White House Maker Faire, and recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Qduino Mini.

Zymbit

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The Internet of Things represents a compelling opportunity across a staggering array of applications, and as more devices become connected, development time will play an increasingly integral role. Fortunately, Zymbit provides a unique, pre-packaged hardware and software IoT solution that not only allows Makers to customize, add and modify their projects, but bring those gizmos and gadgets to market in days, not months.

DrumPants

Drum

Ever catch yourself drumming on your pant leg? Your table? Your desk? Your steering wheel? Well good news, starting a one-man band is now as simple as wearing DrumPants. Dubbed by its creators Tyler Freeman and Lei Yu as “the world’s industrial quality wearable musical instrument,” the kit magically transforms your outfit into a full ensemble with over 100 high-quality sounds and 300 music apps.

littleBits

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Like the LEGO and Tinkertoys of the tech-savvy generation, littleBits is open-source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets, enabling Makers to learn electronics via prototypes. The library currently has over 60 modules, ranging from Arduino to MP3 to cloud bits. The best part? Each interchangeable board works with one another to spark up millions of possible combinations.

1Sheeld

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1Sheeld is a configurable shield for Arduino boards that lets users replace their other shields by using smartphone features, such as its display, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, GSM, Wi-Fi and GPS. The system is comprised of two parts: a shield that physically connects to an Arduino and acts as a wireless middleman, transmitting data between the board and any Android smartphone via Bluetooth, and an Android app that manages the communication between the shield and the mobile device.

Zippy Robotics

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Zippy Robotics enables users to construct circuit boards, arts and crafts, mechanical parts and other working prototypes righ from their desk through a computer-controlled carving machine called Prometheus.

Wait… There’s More!

On Saturday at 3pm PT, Atmel’s resident Wi-Fi expert Pierre Roux will join representatives from ARM, littleBits and MAKE to delve deeper into the “Connectivity, Creativity and Challenges” of the Internet of Things. Shortly after, the one and only Wizard of Make Bob Martin will conduct an on-stage demonstration on how to debug an Arduino board. This training session will take place Saturday at 6:30pm PT.

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Stay Connected

Be sure to follow along with us on Twitter as we bring you all of the latest happenings from throughout the week. For those attending and looking to have their project featured on the Atmel social channels, tweet us to set up an interview! Unable to attend? No need to worry, we’ll also be live-streaming via Periscope — or something that we like to call #Fairescope!

Massimo Banzi announces the Arduino open source apartment

During this year’s MakerCon keynote, Arduino Co-Founder Massimo Banzi announced that the company is working on an “open apartment” that will soon be available to rent.

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The project is a collaboration with futurist Bruce Sterling and will be located in Arduino’s Turin, Italy headquarters — which is actually an abandoned car factory. The apartment will serve as a test ground for the latest developments from the Maker community, equipped with furniture from OpenDesk, a plethora of Atmel based devices as well as other hardware creations.

“All of the houses of the future are fake, but you’ll be able to rent ours on Airbnb,” Banzi told the crowd.

Unlike other so-called “homes of the future,” this Arduino-powered space will be more than a livable showcase. In fact, the inhabitants’ responses to the elements inside will be registered for the project’s research, MAKE Magazine reports.

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Following the pre-World Maker Faire presentation, Mike Senese went 1:1 with Banzi to get some more details around the project and to learn more about what’s next for the open-source platform.

A few weeks later, Banzi “officially” launched the apartment at Maker Faire Rome; however, as for when you will be able to rent the house yourself, you will have to stay tuned. During his session, the Arduino co-founder unveiled the official name for the open-source apartment: Casa Jasmina.

“Casa Jasmina is a real-world testbed for hacks, experiments, exhibitions and a guest house for IoT and open design… We’ll do stress test the concept of open-source home automation with Casa Jasmina,” Banzi explained. “It’s time for a new Italian domestic landscape.”

Collaborator Bruce Sterling also shared his thoughts on the soon-to-launch project by stating, “I’ve known for a long time that Torino would be the center of digital manufacturing for Italy. What we are going to see is a national open-source. What’s needed is now is not more gadgets… [but to] figure out how to move this from the hobby level to a level of professionalism, and how to establish making with Italian characteristics.”

When discussing Arduino and the nature of the open-source movement, he added, “Just like the slow food movement defeats the fast food movement by being good, clean, fair and putting everything on the table in a very open fashion.”