For the 3rd time in recent years, we spent a Saturday at the World Maker Faire in NY. For those not familiar with the Maker Faire, it’s eclectic collection of people who like to “make” things (hence the name). The World Maker Faire, named for the location of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park, is in its 4th year and this year had an estimated crowd of 75,000.
This was the largest of the three we attended – the great weather certainly helped. Aside from the crowds, one way to gauge the popularity of an event is to look at the big name exhibitors it attracts. This year we had Microsoft, Radio Shack, Ford, Autodesk, VEX, Texas Instruments, MicroChip, Delta faucets, and even Purina!
Probably the most noticeable trend in recent years is the emergence of 3D printers from garage shop tools to bona fide tool for the 21st century. Three years ago, there were just a handful of 3D printer vendors selling low-end hardware. This year, we saw printers of all sizes and capabilities. In addition, we saw the emergence of businesses that provide 3D printing services, vendors selling just supplies (not unlike ink or toner for your paper printer), and craftsmen selling 3D printed jewelry and crafts.
The Arduino continues to attract a lot of Maker attention but now has competition from the Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone and other small embedded systems. TI has its Launchpad, MicroChip has its Microstick and even Intel has joined the fray with its Atom powered Minnowboard open source design. The sheer quantity of ideas and uses for small embedded boards is truly amazing.
What I like best about attending events like the Maker Faire is walking away with the sense that there are still people out there building interesting things. I saw more kids of all ages than ever before and that was very refreshing. When I got home, I made a list of 5 things I was inspired to Make. With any luck I’ll find some time for at least one of them. Tops on the list? A MAME driven arcade console using an old PC. Now how hard can that be?
The World Maker Faire returns next September. Who wants to go?
Here are some pictures.