I was really excited to be in NYC in September to attend and do a presentation on my wearables work at my first US Maker Faire. Having exhibited at four UK Maker Faires in Newcastle, plus Brighton Mini Maker Faire and visiting both Elephant and Castle Maker Faires (where at the most recent I wandered about soliciting feedback on my EEG Visualising Pendant), I was full of anticipation for the World Maker Faire weekender at the New York Hall of Science, in Queens, New York.
I had heard it would be big, but I wasn’t prepared for the hugeness of it, or that it would mainly be an outside event! It was comprised of several fields of stands and presentation stages, plus the entirety of the New York Hall of Science, which isn’t a small building. Because I had a big list of places I wanted to visit in Manhattan, I had intended to spend half a day on Saturday and Sunday at Maker Faire, but due to the vastness of World Maker Faire I spent two whole days there till closing each day and I still didn’t see everything or meet up with or find all the friends I had intended to say hello to.
On day two (Sunday), on the Electronics Stage, I gave a presentation on my own work, primarily my Baroesque Barometric Skirt and EEG Visualising Pendant, which I wore around World Maker Faire, that incited much curiosity and feedback – which was a fun way to meet people! It was lovely that friends were in the audience and afterwards we had much fun wandering about and catching up. The talk slot was a bit short for me as I usually have a lot to say, so I had to wind up before my slides ran out, but I enjoyed the opportunity immensely.
In terms of what was on show, it wasn’t very different from what I’d been used to seeing at UK Maker Faires, i.e. lots of electronics, crafts and technology stalls from individual makers, hackspaces and organisations, but there were loads more large stalls from the big players such as Atmel, Intel and Arduino.
It was great that there were many presentation stages and a multitude of talks to choose from, my favourite talk of the weekend was by one of my favourite inspirational wearables creators and thinkers, Kate Hartman, who spoke about the work her students have been up to at OCAD University in Toronto. I went up to Kate at the end to say hello, which was lovely. Check out her conceptual wearables, they’re very cool and have a look at the Social Body Lab and projects, which she runs at OCAD.
There were too many great stands and projects to document, but one of my favourites was the glorious Sashimi Tabernacle Choir, consisting of a car covered with over two hundred and fifty computer controlled lobsters, bass, trout, catfish and sharks. The Choir performs a choreographed repertoire of songs from pop songs to classical opera. It’s fabulous – enjoy the videos and info on the website!
A highlight of World Maker Faire was finally finding the OpenBCI stand. I had been conversing with Conor via email about their modular sensing kits that they had recently successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund. To emphasise the vastness of World Maker Faire, it had taken me two days to find them. After asking at multiple help points, studying the map and wandering around and around the fields, I finally found the OpenBCI on the last day by grabbing a kindly information stand helper, who on hearing my plight, wandered around with me to find their stand! I’m really glad I persevered, as it was lovely to meet Conor and Joel and fascinating to chat about and view their OpenBCI wares being demonstrated, plus they had a special discount offer for that weekend, which I took advantage of and can’t wait to get my own OpenBCI kit soon!
Another highlight of World Maker Faire was bumping into inspirational electronics engineer and entrepreneur Limor Fried AKA Ladyada, and Phil of Adafruit. I have been following Limor’s work since I got my first LilyPad Arduino back in 2008, which I bent her ear about and also showed her my EEG Visualising Pendant. When I got back to the UK I sent details of the pendant to Adafruit and fab fellow wearable creator, (whose work I’ve also followed for years) Becky Stern put up a page up about it on the Adafruit Wearable Wednesday blog – thanks Limor and Becky!
To sum up, World Maker Faire was huge, amazing and inspiring – I’d love to go again – thanks for having me!