Maker's Faire 2015

Yesterday I went to Maker's Faire 2015 with some friends from work. It's my second Maker's Faire in the Bay Area and I was pretty excited about it. I saw some same installations from 2013, and also some exciting new inventions. I want to share my thoughts about the trends related to 3D printing, Internet of Things (IoT), and some other interesting stuffs.


3D Printing

When I was at the 2013 Maker’s Faire, 3D printing was the next big thing. It’s the dream of a maker. People were focusing on making 3D printers more reliable, accessible, and faster. This year there were more variations around 3D printing technique.

There are 3D printers using laser to solidify liquid resins (Laser Stereolithography) from FormLabs, DWSLab, and XYZprinting. They are faster and more precise for printing high-resolution models.

Form 1+

FormLabs - Form 1 +

XFAB

DWSLab - XFAB

Nobel 1.0

XYZprinting - Nobel 1.0

There are 3D printers that print multiple colors from MosaicMfg, and full-color printers from Z-Corp 3D printer 650.

The Palette

MosaicMfg - The Palette

There are 3D printers from FLUX that have modular heads and can switch from 3D printing to laser cutting to even 3D scanning.

FLUX

FLUX 3D Printer

There are also companies that develop 3D printing pens such as Future Make and companies that provide 3D printing service such as Shapeways. And of course, there are machines that print pancakes, creative!

Polyes Q1

Future Make - Polyes Q1

Instead of 3D printing, there is also a bunch of carving tools including carving pens from Router Parts, hand-held tabletop carving tools from Shaper, and 3D carving machine from Carbide 3D.

Shaper

Shaper

Nomad883

Carbide 3D - Nomad883

Using the same technique, you can also carve circuit boards. Instead of carving, Argentum from Cartesian Co actually prints silver on any surface to create circuits. Very exciting!

Argentum

Cartesian Co - Argentum


Internet of Things

I saw lots of companies claiming to have the ultimate IoT tools but actually their tools are not that accessible to people. On the other hand, there are companies that started with simple building blocks for kids to learn about electronics and how things are connected. Here are the few companies/startups that impressed me a lot with their products.

littleBits

littleBits has been around for a while and I still love how easy it is to teach kids about circuits and sensors. They’ve been focusing more on their community and education movement. I heard they have a new module called “cloudBit”which allows you to create internet-connected devices, not sure how it works though.

littleBits

MakerBloks

MakerBloks feels like a simplified version of littleBits, focusing more on kids around 6 years old to use these building blocks to learn circuits.

MakerBloks

MESH

Mesh is a company from Tokyo, designing blocks of electronics (they call it Tags) to interact with each other wirelessly using an iPad app. I love their aesthetics and how easy it is to connect the Tags on the app. For example, you can drag a line from Button tag to LED tag on the app, and now when you click the button tag, the LED tag will light up, all communicating through low energy blue-tooth and the tags are rechargeable.

MESH

SAM Labs

We found SAM Labs at the “Startup Pavilion”, and they are doing pretty much the same thing as MESH, but even more impressive. SAM Labs also designed a bunch of building blocks such as LED light, potentiometer, button, and more! Each block has it’s own on and off button, when you turn on two blocks, they will show on the software and you can drag a line to connect them. The interface actually shows simple graphic of the blocks and animates them when you interact with the blocks. They also integrated with social media so that you can drag a Twitter block on the software and connect it with a button, now when you click the button you can send a twitter message. You can even drag a Code block to inject JavaScript functions to change how the connection behaves.

SAM Labs


Others

Google held a “Breaker Lab”, letting kids to learn about different objects and predict how they will smash when the machine crushes them. They even show slow motion videos to see how things break. There’s also a station where you can fill your balloon with colored materials and a machine will blow the balloon until it pops. When the pieces inside the balloon flies out, the camera can capture the colors can create different music depending on how those pieces fall. Basically breaking things, why not?

Google Breaker Lab

I was expecting more drone or virtual reality projects but seems like there’s only a few. I only saw some miniature drones that can capture videos, and some virtual reality games using Google Cardboard. This year I think they were more focusing on building a community for makers to learn new things, and also promoting education programs for both kids and adults. Next year I think that there will be better 3D printers, better filaments for 3D printers, more applications around 3D printers and more IoT related applications not just for makers but also for everyone.