Fri, May 29, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Celebrating the DIY spirit

Maker Faire Taipei has doubled in size each year since its inception in 2013, with over 1,000 “makers” participating in this weekend’s event

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

A scene from last year’s Maker Faire Taipei.

Photo courtesy of Maker Faire Taipei

Make no mistake. At Maker Faire Taipei 2015, a two-day festival beginning tomorrow at Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914創意文化園區), you will encounter plenty of engineers, science students and techno geeks presenting their brilliant experiments and inventions. But you will also run into the tinkerers, do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts and craftspeople showing off their gadgets.

In its third year, the event is aimed at fostering Taiwan’s DIY culture, which has gained popularity worldwide and has been made easier by new technology such as open-source software and hardware. An important player in this global trend is Make, a US magazine launched in 2005 that focuses on DIY projects and collaboration. In 2006, Make hosted the first Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, and similar events have since popped up across the globe.

In 2011, the magazine made its Chinese-language debut in Taiwan as Make: Taiwan. Two years later, the magazine launched Maker Faire Taipei. The event has grown since, with 250 exhibition booths and more than 1,000 “makers” participating this year.

“We believe that everyone can be a maker, and everyone is welcome,” says Hong Hui-chun (洪卉君) of Make: Taiwan.

So what exactly does Maker Faire Taipei have to offer? You’ll have to visit the festival to find out.

Hong says makers are a “casual, free-spirited species,” which means that they will most likely wait until the last minute to finalize their products.

“Even I don’t know what exactly the makers will bring until I go to the fair,” she says.

A big hit last year was the Iron Man helmet. Modeled after the one worn by Robert Downey Jr’s character in the franchise, the helmet detects the user’s moving speed and displays it on the visor. Monsker (鋼鐵人實作聯盟), the maker club behind the device, plans to return this year.

Event notes

What: Maker Faire Taipei 2015

When: Tomorrow and Sunday from 10am to 5pm

Where: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914創意文化園區)

Admission: Free

On the net: www.makerfaire.com.tw


“It will be an advanced version of last year’s design. That is all they can tell us,” Hong says.

Another showpiece from last year is the prototype of an all-in-one 3D printer developed by FLUX, a design team comprised of several National Taiwan University students. The group raised nearly NT$50 million through Kickstarter to build the invention.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Events such as Maker Faire provide a platform for young entrepreneurs to test the waters for their products. Companies can also introduce their latest open-source tools to the DIY community. However, such participants at the fair are mostly foreign corporations such as Intel and Autodesk. MediaTek (聯發科技) is the only Taiwanese firm that has participated so far.

Hong says that it will probably take some time for Taiwanese companies to start connecting with the maker community.

“They are evaluating if it is worth reaching out to makers,” she says. “Taiwanese enterprises come from the tradition of original equipment manufacturer (OEM). They are used to doing business in massive quantities. To them, the maker community is simply too small.”

FUN FOR EVERYONE

While Hong can’t pinpoint what exactly visitors will encounter at the fair, she says electronic devices are a perennial favorite with local makers. Meanwhile, trends in maker technology can be identified by looking at each year’s projects. In 2013, for example, 3D printing was the hottest thing. This year, many projects focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the network of physical objects — from household appliances to urban transportation — that are connected to the Internet, enabling them to exchange data without human intervention. Among the IoT-related projects, Orchid House is an award-winning energy-efficient home developed by students at National Chiao Tung University.

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