This post was co-authored by Travis Good and Dale Dougherty
Every major trend was once a fringe curiosity embraced by the few with a sense of mission. The current surge of hardware innovation is no exception. A relatively small group of makers are taking advantage of inexpensive embeddable technology and new, powerful tools that are making the physical world smarter by connecting it to digital computing. Add to that the open-source sharing of code and design files, and we’re experiencing a new state of mind regarding hardware development. Rapid prototyping of new hardware ideas has never been easier or cheaper.
As more people catch on, ideas and ambitions spread. We’ve seen makerspaces grow from only a handful to now approaching 1,000 in eight years. We’ve seen funding of new hardware products go from small, rare and obscure to large, frequent and regularly capturing the limelight. As the community of modern makers expands, a professional class has emerged with ambitions of taking products to market. In many cases, these “maker pros” are able to act on their own to develop their ideas, rather than needing the material resources of a larger company to get to market. However, the road to market is not an easy one, and transitioning from prototype to a shipped product is a challenging path often wrought with difficulties.
New York has its own hardware development scene, reflected in the popularity of hardware startup Meetups, the NYC EDC’s Next Top Makers competition, and the newly announced RGA Accelerator program for connected devices. New York City (in Queens) will also be the location for the next Hardware Innovation Workshop from Maker Media on September 18 at New York’s Hall of Science, just before World Maker Faire. We’ve had two editions of the Hardware Innovation Workshop in the SF Bay Area; this is the first time it will be held in New York. Here are some of the highlights from the jam-packed one-day program:
- Peter Semmelhack, author of “Social Machines: How to Develop Connected Products that Change Customer’s Lives” and founder of BugLabs, will be the keynote.
- Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, will talk about the new digitizer scanner in addition to the exciting developments of MakerBot 3D printers.
- Christine Furstoss, global technology director of manufacturing & materials technologies at GE Global Research Center, will talk about the industrial use of 3D printers.
- Carla Diana of Smart Interaction Labs will talk about interaction design.
- Massimo Banzi of Arduino and Jason Kridner of BeagleBone will talk about new embedded controllers and processors.
- Chris Dixon of Andreeson Horowitz will be one of several VCs talking about the hardware themes that interest them most.
- Bunnie Huang, expert hacker and maker, will discuss manufacturing for makers.
- Ben Einstein of Bolt, a maker accelerator, along with Scott Miller, CEO of Dragon Innovation and also of Bolt, will talk about getting to market.
- Alasdair Allen of Data Sensing Labs will talk about sensor platforms.
- Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, will present a case study.
- David Lang, author of newly published “Zero to Maker,” will talk about learning enough making skills to be dangerous and about the OpenROV project.
From Scobelizer’s Robert Scoble to futurist Brian David Johnson, this event will cover the “state-of-the-art” in hardware innovation from many different perspectives. We’ll have makers who have been pioneers in developing new products, but we’ll also see up-and-coming product ideas in Pitches with Prototypes. Finally, the Hardware Innovation Workshop will conclude with an evening reception, where the 2013 winner of the Next Top Makers competition will be announced and the six finalists of the Pitch Your Prototype competition will display and demo their projects and ideas.