I made my inaugural visit to the Maker Faire this year. This is a well-attended festival for innovators, hobbyists, tinkerers, inventors, and anyone else who is into DIY creativity. There was too much going on here for me to do the fai...
I made my inaugural visit to the Maker Faire this year. This is a well-attended festival for innovators, hobbyists, tinkerers, inventors, and anyone else who is into DIY creativity. There was too much going on here for me to do the faire justice with a single review. I learned so much that I'll be seeding many future blog posts with maker concepts that I think will apply to business. I normally take notes at conferences but here I'll concentrate on the exhibits that stood out as relevant to my own priorities.
I attended several of the talks given at the Center Stage and elsewhere. The Center Stage talks were all recorded to appear on FORA.tv, so I don't need to repeat them here. I will display some illustrated summaries that a visual artist rendered during each talk. She was cute and I wish I had her contact info. If she sees this blog article, I hope she contacts me because I really admire her work. My impressions follow each artistic rendering.
This talk on the use of drones to perform aerial crop surveys illustrates a tremendous opportunity for agribusiness. Farmers can program a drone to follow GPS waypoints for surveys of crop damage and irrigation distribution. Farmers can optimize pesticide and herbicide application with details on crop damage. I've read a lot recently about thieves who scavenge farms in Central California for metal they can sell as scrap. I believe drones and remote sensors can also play a role in wide-area security for agribusiness. I asked a drone operator over at the faire's Drone Games pavilion about programming drone movements; he said drones can be set to track moving objects on the ground automatically. If I were a farmer, I'd program remote cameras and sensors (magnetic, acoustic, and seismic) to monitor my farm's perimeter and have a drone on standby to launch at any intrusion point. The drone would track a fleeing suspect long enough to get a video recording of their facial features, gait, and vehicle license plate for use by law enforcement. Imagine how the widespread use of privately-owned drones as security tools would support law and order in rural areas.
Going from zero to maker is easy. You don't have to know everything. You do have to try and try again because making mistakes and improving prototypes is a normal part of discovery. Crowdfunding a cool project can really help its visibility.
I only caught part of the NASA astronaut's talk. The best thing I learned from him was that NASA's interest in developing a fusion-powered spacecraft will eventually accelerate the development of fusion energy for commercial use on Earth.
This is one talk I'm glad I did NOT attend. PBS and NPR have lots of good programming but sometimes they showcase some naive people doing ineffective things. One case in point is the Violins for Veterans idea noted on the card above. I heard about that giveaway from my friends in the San Francisco veterans' community. It was a disaster. First of all, the veterans never asked for the violins in the first place. Hardly any of them have ever even learned music, let alone this instrument. When some destitute veterans found out they could pawn their donated violins for cash, that's exactly what they did. Well-meaning people need to do some market research before they launch a giveaway program. Veterans need stable employment before they can afford the luxury of learning a musical instrument.
This is a talk I wish I had attended. Chickens popping out plants sounds like something out of science fiction but serious scientists and philanthropists are working on it. Would you like some arugula in your omelette? No problem, just crack open an egg that comes pre-loaded.
This was probably the most unique talk of the entire faire. The founder of the Maker Faire, Dale Dougherty, interviewed Charles Hull, founder of 3D Systems. 3D printing has been around for three decades and evolved