A need to address a lack of housing for the globe's growing population has turned up some eye-catching efforts, blending creative architecture
with new, sustainable technologies
. And it is increasingly looking like 3D printing
could have a role to play. Italian firm Wasp is the latest to explore the potential of additive manufacturing in this area, developing a super-sized 3D printer capable of producing low-cost housing made from mud.
When I covered MakerCon
last month in New York for Gizmag, literally one of the first things I did was text a photo of the 45-lb (20 kg), tote-able laser cutter to my friend who owns a shop back home in New Mexico. As it turns out, that's exactly the type of consumer Pittsburgh startup Red Ant hopes to target with its Origami.
Maker Faires are not only places for do-it-yourselfers, innovators and inventors to share their latest and greatest creations with each other, but are also hugely popular with the general public. The Bay Area Maker Faire
a few months back, for example, attracted 1,100 exhibitors and 130,000 visitors. Now Toyota is looking to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the Maker movement with a new Urban Utility concept vehicle called the U2.
The latest validation that maker culture has arrived came this week from Washington, D.C., where the date of the first-ever White House Maker Faire was announced. We've collected some of the most impressive, innovative or just undeniably interesting Maker projects that deserve to be included.
Of all the robots spotted at last month's Bay Area Maker Faire
, the non-descript RoboTar definitely had the most distinctive groove. RoboTar is a robotic guitar hand that attaches to the neck of your instrument and takes care of that tricky fret work allowing for a new way to learn, play one-handed or even encourage experimentation for more experienced players.
3D printing might be awesome, but so far it's mostly been the realm of design geeks and passionate tinkerers. The Zeus
from AIO Robotics seeks to merge 3D scanning and printing with the push-button simplicity of today's consumer all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines. In the process, the company also created the closest thing we've seen so far to the Star Trek
replicator, with the added bonus of what you might call "ToIP" – Teleportation over Internet Protocol.
Last year, my daughter and I had the opportunity to try out Littlebits
– magnetic circuits that make it easy for kids to create a variety of simple projects – for a few weeks. She's been talking about it ever since. Now the company is offering a new Arduino module that allows kids to not just make cool circuits, but to program them too.
It could be the most important portable power plant you've never heard of. It's called the "Power Pallet" and it is essentially a combined biomass refinery and generator that fits on a single pallet and can kick out up to 20 kilowatts of electricity.
Over 1,400 backers committed over $400,000 to the crowdfunding campaign for the $199 QU-BD 3D print. The Little Rock, Arkansas-based company has been scrambling to fulfill all those orders ever since, but have managed to also bring forth a few new versions of their 3D printer kit and also prepare to start taking new orders.
In a world increasingly dominated by touchscreens, a London design studio is taking an approach to touch that's both low(er)-tech and innovative at the same time. Bare Conductive raised over US$200,000 on Kickstarter last year for an Arduino-based project called Touch Board that turns any conductive material into a potential capacitive touch input, including the firm's own conductive electric paint
. Gizmag's Eric Mack was able to see the Touch Board in action and speak with co-founder Matt Johnson at the Bay Area Maker Faire