Last weekend was Maker Faire, that special two days when makers from all over the world gather to dazzle and educate all those lucky enough to snag a ticket. As if the dozens of vendors weren’t enough, there were also inspiring talks. Plus, it’s hosted by the New York Hall of Science, so there’s general science exploration to enjoy as well.
There’s so much to see that you find yourself wishing you could exist in multiple places all at once. Not yet equipped with such an ability, I had to pick and choose the talks and demos which was not always an easy choice to make. What I was particularly curious about was the maker process itself, and of course, 3D printing.
Below are some highlights of talks and new products that I particularly enjoyed. But first, the Astromech stars of the Faire, by DroidBuilders:
Now, for the even more amazing IDEAS at the Faire:
Building better cities… and better brains
Acclaimed innovation expert Peter Hirshberg led a talk that touched on some of the most interesting elements from his Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities. Along with panelists Mark Muro, Mary Mattingly, and Alfa Demmellash, Hirshberg discussed the book’s adoption by cities across the United States. Interestingly, its principles have given these cities a new identity, resulting in the resurgence and revitalization of their communities. Knoxville, Tennessee, for instance, is now focusing its energy on providing makers with space, resources, and funding. Maker Faire is chock full of specific inventions, but it was exciting to see that entire cities are beginning to embrace the notion of makerspaces and alternative approaches to city planning.
The most surprising and inspiring talk I attended was led by Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, who spoke about the one piece of equipment that is indisputably at the center of every form of making imaginable: the brain. Wendy discussed a project in which lab mice were given a “Disney World for mice” to play in and how their brains physically changed, compared to a control group given just the bare necessities. After further research, she concluded that exercise helps to promote the growth of new brain cells in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain most associated with memory. She went on to explain that she tested this out on her NYU students, with very positive results. At the end of her talk she asked us to rise, and then proceeded to lead us in a 5 minute aerobics session which left everyone smiling — and more attentive. We tend to think of the making process as a pretty cerebrally-driven experience, but it was nice to be reminded of the role our physical bodies play in our abilities to be creative and resourceful.
Mobile 3D Printing?!
As is the case every year, the “3D Print Village” section of Maker Faire housed a plethora of new 3D printers and 3D printing materials available to the consumer desktop printing market (What’s the difference between desktop 3D printing and Shapeways? We’re glad you asked). One printer that stood out in particular was ONO, a portable 3D printer that uses the light from your mobile device to harden resin. The printer itself only costs $99.00 and I was surprised at the quality and strength of the parts it was able to print. Definitely a game-changer!
Battling a very untimely cold, I unfortunately missed a lot of talks and booths I was really looking forward to. Still, despite feeling awful, I came away from Maker Faire yet again feeling inspired and hopeful. At a time where society can sometimes feel so hell-bent on destruction and divisiveness, it was a much-needed dose of hope. Not only because of the great turnout, but because of the many examples of the human spirit’s stubbornness and resilience, its creativity, and its compelling need to simply make.