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 Today, Tyler 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.”