Tag Archives: New York Times

Is Maker Faire the new World’s Fair?

The New York Times has a regularly occurring section entitled “Room For Debate,” where they bring in knowledgeable people to discuss timely topics and events. Last week, the newspaper posed the question, “Reinventing the World’s Fair, or not. Is there a way to give the fairs of the past new life? And if so, what would they look like?”


Dale Dougherty, Founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, chimed in with the following response:

A World’s Fair offered the promise of what the future would bring, and its standard bearers were large companies who built elaborate pavilions that helped to make a vision of the future seem real. At the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, Westinghouse introduced Elektro, a 7-foot tall robot that could speak with a vocabulary of 700 words, smoke cigarettes and blow up balloons. The voice box for this electro-mechanical robot was a 78-r.p.m. record player.

Today, we have lots of people building robots that are much more sophisticated than Elektro, and easier and cheaper to construct; indeed you can see some of them at this year’s Maker Faire in Queens. As the founder of Maker Faire, where individuals and groups of tinkerers, hackers, artists, inventors and builders come together to demonstrate how technology and talent can change our lives and the world around us, I think of the Maker Faire as the new World’s Fair: the people’s fair.

It is important for us as a society to imagine the future, and the World’s Fair provided a context for doing so. But it is also vital that we see ourselves participating actively in creating or making that future, and that’s what we believe Maker Faire is doing. Oh, and Mr. Greenhalgh, we just had one in Detroit — for the fifth year in a row!

For those unfamiliar with the event, we hope to see each and every one of you next month at the 5th Annual World Maker Faire, held September 20-21st at the New York Hall of Science. If this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area was any preview of what is to come in Queens, we are certainly in for a treat. With an anticipated 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees, there should be enough to inspire, inform and entertain the thousands of attendees. This family-friendly event that celebrates technology, education, science, arts, crafts, engineering, food, sustainability and much more will once again have Atmel as a Silversmith Sponsor.

Only days until we enter through the doors of the New York Hall of Science, here’s a look back at last year’s event in photos.

Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens 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 a number of the Makers mentioned above. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects

2014 disruptions: Extremely smart watches and 3D printing

Writing for the New York Times, Nick Bilton says 2014 holds a “lot of promise” for wearable devices such as smartwatches.

“Predicting the future is a lot more difficult than evaluating the past, but you could wake up on Jan. 1, 2015, in a different digital winter wonderland,” Bilton opines. “You might wake up to the call of a watch on your wrist – not your cellphone on your night table.”

Indeed, analyst Sarah Rotman Epps confirms a new generation of smartwatches – designed to connect to smartphones – are going to create an “entirely new category of computing” in 2014.

To be sure, smartwatches will allows users to more conveniently view messages without having to pull cellphones out of pockets or purses. The devices are also expected to make it easier for the wearer to monitor his or her health with advanced heartbeat sensors.

“According to Citigroup, the global watch industry generated $60 billion in sales in 2013,” Bilton notes. “Numerous research estimates expect the smartwatch industry to generate billions more in revenue for consumer tech companies in 2014.”

Bilton also says 2013 was an important year for the evolution of 3D printers capable of replicating physical objects based on digital files.

“In 2014, we could start to see these devices become a fixture in our homes just as inkjet printers became a norm in the late 1980s,” he writes. “What will you use these for? Maybe you’ll make your own iPhone covers rather than buy them from stores, print out new salt and pepper shakers, or download a pattern and print a new part for your drone.”

Atmel-powered Ormerod 3D printer

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel AVR XMEGA and megaAVR MCUs can be found in the majority of 3D printers on the market, including the popular RepRap. It should also be noted that the lucrative 3D printing space is set for “explosive growth” in 2014 and 2015. To be sure, Gartner analysts expect worldwide shipments of 3D printers to increase by 75 percent in 2014, followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.

3D printing the 19th Century in 2013

Martin Galese, a 31-year-old lawyer in New York, routinely searches the USPTO (US Patent Office) archives for the design DNA of antique inventions. He then “reinterprets” them as design files for 3D printers like the Atmel-powered Makerbot and RepRap.

“If you look at the figures in older patents, the 19th century patents are really beautiful. They’re really works of art,” Galese recently told the New York Times.

“You’re holding the 19th century by way of something that was produced in the 21st century. There is so much more design in our world, so many more objects.”

Galese says he has already experimented with and printed a chopstick holder from the 1960s, a portable chess set from the 1940s, a pot scraper from 1875 and a 1989 bookmark / pen holder.

Additional 3D projects based on expired patents can be found on Martin’s blog or Thingverse.