Although the Maker and open source hardware movements are a global phenomenon, the DIY culture in China can actually be traced back to the ancient concept of Shanzhai. As Gabrielle Levine, the newly appointed president of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) notes, China is going to be a huge driving force in the open source hardware landscape.
“There are many similarities between [the local concept of] Shanzhai and the open source hardware community,” Gabriella Levine told OpenElectronics in February. “Both Shanzhai and open source hardware projects borrow information, tools, source code, CAD files and techniques; both improve upon other’s work to accelerate development.”
SeeedStudio founder Eric Pan expressed similar sentiments during a recent interview with Atmel’s official blog, Bits & Pieces.
“MakerSpaces will likely enable a new wave of tech startups in China as in the US,” he confirmed.
“Clearly, hardware development is becoming a more agile process with the aid of [open source] prototyping tools like RepRap and Arduino boards – both of which are helping to facilitate innovation across the world and particularly in China.”
Similarly, David Li, co-founder of Shanghai’s first Maker Space, told The Economist that the DIY movement has inspired the creation of legitimate and innovative products, with socially progressive Makers teaming up with more traditional manufacturers in China.
We at Atmel are at the strategic heart of the international Maker Movement, with a comprehensive portfolio of versatile microcontrollers (MCUs) that power a wide range of Maker platforms and devices, including 3D printers (MakerBot Replicator 2 and RepRap), the vast majority of Arduino boards, as well as Adafruit’s Gemma, Trinket and Flora platforms.
Indeed, Arduino boards are currently used by millions of Makers, engineers, schools and corporations all over the world. At least 1.2 million Atmel-powered Arduino boards have been sold to date, with the ATmega328-based Uno being a particular Maker and prototyping favorite. Of course, stand-alone AVR microcontrollers like the tinyAVR lineup are also popular amongst the DIY crowd.
As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, an increasing number of Makers are kicking off project prototyping with Atmel-based Arduino boards. Concurrently, we are also seeing a jump in professional engineers relying on Atmel-powered Arduino boards to create initial models for their devices, platforms and solutions.
According to Gartner, 50% of companies expected to help build the rapidly evolving Internet of Things have yet to coalesce. This is precisely why Atmel views China’s Maker Movement as one of the primary tech incubators for future IoT companies and devices, many of which will undoubtedly use Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) to power their respective platforms.
Atmel will proudly be attending Maker Faire Shenzhen this year on April 6-7. Our booth – #4 – is located right next to Center Stage. We’ll be showcasing a number of Atmel-powered products including a Zigebee-based lighting demo, robotic model car, various Seeeduino boards, the Rainbow Cube (LED light controlled by Atmel MCUs) and an e-ink badge.
I’ll also be giving a presentation about Atmel microcontrollers, the IoT and Makers at 2PM on April 7th at the Center Stage. Hope to see you there!