Category Archives: Meet your Makers

Meet Your Maker: IoT Design Shop

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Vancouver-based IoT Design Shop is a leader in the development of Internet of Things (IoT)-related technology. They’re dedicated to bringing a number of solutions to market in 2014, including Bluetooth Low Energy devices, proximity systems, and wearables. Their products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in their office, right here in the Lower Mainland. They’re bringing their ConnectionMaker indoor location system to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire for attendees to try out; fairgoers will be able to download the ConnectionMaker app from the app store and then use it to locate and identify other people who are using the app. Fun!

What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?

This year we are exhibiting ConnectionMaker, a state-of-the-art indoor positioning system that brings the power and convenience of GPS to micro indoor locations. It’s basically an indoor location-based social network that makes it easy for people to meet with one another at events or conferences. Using the ConnectionMaker app on your smartphones, you will be able to see the location and contact information of other Makers at the Faire. ConnectionMaker is revolutionizing how people meet at events and the underlying technology will pave the way for indoor location-based services that will change the way people do business.

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 What else do you make?

We are excited to be launching the beta version of our new consumer product at VMMF this year! It is a system that bridges your digital and physical worlds by combining the location-detection abilities of our beacons with a mobile app. Basically you can configure your smartphone to take predetermined actions when you encounter beacons in the world. These actions, or really reactions, include:

  • launching an app

  • displaying a message on your phone

  • playing a sound

  • opening a URL

  • starting a text or email message

  • starting a tweet or Facebook post

  • starting a phone call

 So how do we use it? Our favourite ways are to launch iTunes as we approach our cars and to play a sound to announce our arrivals at the office! Stop by our booth at the event to see the product in action.

 We have also developed a proprietary platform called IoT Core. It is basically a toolkit that can be used to rapidly develop connected-product ecosystems. The components include mobile apps, Bluetooth Low Energy devices and a cloud back end. IoT Core is what we have used internally to build our new consumer product, ConnectionMaker and Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons with iBeacon Technology (BLE Beacons). We see IoT core being a key bridge between Makers and smartphone control of their creations.

 Our BLE Beacons create small, concentrated areas of detection where a user’s proximity to a known location can be determined. This opens the door for many promotional, analytical and convenience applications that have not been possible until now. The basic idea is that business can increase revenue by sending targeted messages to their customers upon entry to a zone or store.

 For Makers we currently sell a Beacon Development Kit with iBeacon Technology that includes custom firmware and a sample iOS application. This is available for purchase through our website and will also be available at our booth at VMMF. We engage directly with companies that are looking to roll out large numbers of beacons or even customized devices.

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?

Without question the our favourite part about being Makers is seeing our ideas come to life. There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing the proverbial “Hello world!” message when you flip the power switch or run an app for the first time. Our favourite-favourite part is then refining our ideas to make commercially-viable products so we can create revenue for our company. Our least favourite part is hunting down well hidden bugs, which can also be the most challenging part. But without challenges to overcome, and the headaches that come along with them, Makers would not get the same satisfaction out of their creations!

.How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

Making is really a state of mind. Once you’re there, good luck keeping it from permeating the other areas of your life. An example of this is spending all day trying to optimize a solution in the office. When you go home and make tacos for dinner, I bet they won’t end up being the base solution of ground beef, salt, and tortillas. Those babies will be optimized with cilantro, spices, guacamole, salsa and of course mucho queso!

.Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

 Yes we have! Some of our earliest memories of Making include ‘playing’ with Duplo. Looking back on this now we all agree that we were in fact developing job skills that we’ve since applied in our careers in the tech industry. Another memory that often pops up is that of taking things apart to see how they work. I have to admit that I struggle not to take my toaster apart on a daily basis… I know how it works, but maybe this one is something different than the 10+ I set my parents’ kitchen on fire with when I was 7. Those were bad years for household appliances!

.Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Nikola Tesla is my favourite Maker of all time hands down. Not only were his ideas huge and crazy, he was a genius and actually turned his waaaay-out-there concepts into super useful technology!

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

It’s hard to explain, but we all feel the same deep-seated duty to build things. It’s almost a primal instinct to create. So really, it would be a challenge to stop making rather than to find the inspiration to continue. Save us from ourselves!

.What is it about Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

As Makers we love to connect with community to see what our peers are up to. We never cease to be blown away by what our fellow Makers dream up and the quality and complexity of their projects.

Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

Making is at the heart of what we do. It’s all about identifying a need and then finding a creative way to apply technology to address it. For us it’s paramount to support other creative people, regardless of what their medium is, and to help them show the world what they’ve done!

Don’t miss the presentation that IoT Design Shop’s Trent Shumay is giving as part of the 2014 VMMF Speaker Series! He’ll be telling us about how they used 3D printing technology to quadruple their manufacturing capacity, and how it allowed them to test markets, pivot, and deliver production-quality units to customers around the world. And make sure you stop by the VMMF silent auction to place a bid on their awesome donation – a Mini Electric Guitar Kit! For more information and to keep up with what IoT Design Shop is up to, check their website or follow them on twitter.

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Meet Your Maker: Sophia Kreuzkamp of Parrotphernalia – Five Reasons Great Jewelry Comes From Happy, Healthy Birds

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We’re excited to host Sophia Kreuzkamp of Parrotphernalia in our Maker Faire Marketplace this year. We were so intrigued by her process and her products that we asked her to tell us a little bit about herself, and how she ended up working with a medium as unusual as bird feathers. Here’s what she told us:

.My story begins with my Blue-fronted Amazon, Larry. While he can sometimes be a grump or a little wary around new people, Larry is actually very sweet once you get to know him. I think Larry and his parrot-brethren are some of the most beautiful animals on the planet. They come in all shapes and sizes, and in pretty much every colour imaginable. As is natural for birds, Larry loses his feathers (or molts) twice a year around winter and summer. During one of these molting periods, I realized that Larry’s feathers, too beautiful to be thrown away, deserved to be appreciated as the works of art that they are.

.And thus, Parrotphernalia was born!

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.Here are the top five reasons we love what we do:

1. Our products are from happy, healthy birds.

Most (if not all) feathered jewelry and accessories bought in stores use feathers plucked straight from the bird while they’re still alive. All Parrotphernalia products are made solely with ethically-sourced feathers no longer needed by happy, healthy birds living in sanctuaries across Canada or as someone’s companion.

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2. Our products are from natural breed birds.

Feathered products bought in stores often come from birds that were bred specifically for the production of these items. Feathered hair extensions are a common example – these come from specially bred roosters created to produce a special kind of tail feather. These roosters live in a factory environment solely to produce feathers for consumers. Our products, on the other hand, come from birds who enjoy freedom of movement and healthy interaction with humans.

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3. No dyes or harmful chemicals are used to create our products.

Many feather products bought in stores have been treated with harmful chemicals before being imported. In most cases, these feathers have also been dyed, which imparts an unnatural hue. Not only are these processes environmentally unfriendly, they diminish the final feathered product’s longevity. Compared to our ethically-sourced feathers, commercial feathers have a very short life-span. Because we know our feathers come from healthy birds, and they are not imported, we are able to use a simple cleaning solution which doesn’t affect the colour or longevity of the feathers.

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4. We give what we get!

In return for each feather donation we receive, we make the contributors an exclusive piece from their donation as a way of thanking those that help us bring our products to the world. Additionally, we provide products for our partner sanctuaries’ fundraising events.

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5. If we can upcycle bird feathers, you can upcycle something fabulous too!

From our business we hope to inspire others to upcycle and recycle everyday things to create something fabulous. Every little act of creativity, whether by us or you, helps our environment and our feathered friends!

Look for the Parrotphernalia booth in our Maker Faire Marketplace, or check them out online on their website, on facebook, or (fittingly) on twitter.

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Meet Your Maker: Jessi Langager and Joshua Langager

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Young Makers Jessi Langager (15) and Joshua Langager (13) are two of our most popular Makers, and they’re returning this year with a new project! We can hardly wait to welcome them back.

What are you bringing to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?

We will be doing demos of our NXT robot which is a buildable and programmable robot.  We will showcase how it gets programmed on the laptop, showing how it moves and turns, and fun things you can build and program with it.

What is your favourite part about being an exhibitor at the show? 

We get to teach kids about robotics and we loved the “like stickys” last year, all the awesome displays- 3D printers, the Titanaboa robot……The toughest part was leaving and waiting another year to come back.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

We have always being very creative; we love to build things. Our mom finds competitions, events, fun programs for us and dad has trained and pushed us to practice everyday our robotics so this year he helped us get a gold medal.  He has been our robotics coach.

.You’re among the youngest Makers at the show this year – what’s that like?

We love the attention and we can teach kids better because we are kids.

langager-2Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

We both love drawing Pokémon, Mario kart, and playing minecraft- creating lots of worlds.  Joshua started composing his own songs at 18 months old about his favourite toys.

Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

Titanoboa is the most fun coolest robotic snake we have ever seen!!!

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.Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

Our dad pushed us to  practice a lot and it can be frustrating when a program doesn’t work properly but we stop and try again- we have learned to get along better, to not argue or get mad at each other, we make a really focused and relaxed team and our mom got a ton of complements from the judges of the competition this year, she was so proud.

What is it about Maker Faire that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

It’s fun being there showing off our talents as programmers and it’s so much fun to look around at  all our neighbours and all the cool things they’re doing.

Don’t miss the Langager booth at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year! You’ll find them in the tech zone at the north end of the Forum.

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Meet Your Maker: Zaber Technologies

 

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Zaber Technologies is a Vancouver-based manufacturer of computer-controlled motorized linear slides, miniature linear actuators, motorized rotary stages, and other devices. Make sure you stop by their booth this year to catch all the moving parts! They’ll have several interactive demos, including a “Microsurgery Game”, interactive musical stages called the “Zee Board”, laser-cut give-aways that will be made at the booth, and “Big Zed” – a moving/changing Z-shape that lights up. In fact, they’re bringing so many different projects to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire that we had to talk to several of them to put together the details for this article!

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What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?

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Several Zaberians (people who work at Zaber) have gotten together to make the following:

Frank’s project: Micro-surgery game – Think “Operation”, but miniaturized and with a joystick.
Justin’s project: Big Zed – A giant, multi-part, moving, 3D “Z”.
Aaron and Connor’s project: Zee-board  – Make your own music with our stages.
Dan’s project: Laser cut give-away – Something to take home and make yourself!

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What else do you guys make?

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Zaberians have been known to make a lot of things, including music, automata mechanisms, heliostats, etc…

 

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What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?

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Frank: I’m an engineer and my work projects are expensive, complicated and precise. Building personal projects helps me develop my skills in new areas with low risk. My least favourite part is not having the right tool for a job or waiting for parts. The most challenging part is finding time.

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Connor: My two favourite parts about being a Maker are the satisfaction of seeing something I created come to life, and the look of enjoyment and surprise on people’s faces when they see the project for the first time.  My least favourite parts (which thankfully haven’t happened this year) are the rare occasions that someone calls into question the usefulness of spending time on the project.  The most challenging part would definitely be when I’m 20 hours into a 5 hour project and it finally feels like I’m about halfway there.

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Justin: Favourite part about being a Maker is the simple joy of creating, sucking sawdust, getting my hands dirty, and problem solving. I’m also able to express my sense of humour through my creations (when possible) which otherwise may go unnoticed from day to day by others. I also actually on occasion make myself laugh because you never know exactly how things will turn out….
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Dan: I’ve never called myself a Maker, but I like making things. My favourite part is starting projects, when every idea is possible. The most challenging part is finishing them.

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How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?

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Frank: I became an engineer as I enjoyed designing and building things. It comes from years and years of training with Lego.
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Connor: I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that allows me to embrace my passion for making and work on cool projects, so my passion for making manifests itself almost daily at work. It’s hard to trace the passion for making since I’ve had it for as long as I can remember; however, I can say that my family has fostered my curiosity and enthusiasm for making since I was a small child.
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Justin: Being a ‘Maker’ is a central part of my soul. I create and ‘make’ at home constantly, so much so a day without ‘Making’ would be fairly unusual. Making comes from a desire to create and express where words rarely can be used or are insufficient -OR in some cases words are just a waste of time. One glance, you get it…

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Dan: I try to do my own car and bicycle repair. I get to make lots of prototypes at work. A lot of it comes from pride; I think I can do a better job than what’s out there, or I care more about the end result, so I end up doing things myself.

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Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?

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Frank: Yes, building a Lego gun with a trigger that could shoot Lego blocks about 5m when I was 8.

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Connor: I have been interested in making for as long as I can remember, but I would have to say I was initially more of a watcher and un-Maker – staring at construction sites and taking apart old appliances.  My earliest memory of creating rather than dismantling something is probably one of the hundreds of Lego or science kit projects I undertook as a child.

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Justin: I have been a ‘Maker’ all my life from very young. My earliest projects included a dozen or so tree forts, a Return of the Jedi Scout Walker made entirely out of cardboard and wire (because we were very poor and I couldn’t afford the proper model kit), and a large aerial view diorama of Kennedy Space Center made on a large table in my folks basement – which was inspired by the excitement of the first Space Shuttle launch.

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Dan: I spent a lot of time drawing as a kid. I think that has something to do with it. I also did origami with my mom. I probably inherited some of her Japanese “eye-for-details”.

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Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.

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Frank: Dan Gelbart. There are few other engineers that are so proficient at design, machining, and prototyping with such a broad range of expertise and experience.
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Connor: I don’t really have a favourite Maker, or even a favourite project.  If I had a dollar for every time I was blown away by the creativity, complexity and detail of another Maker’s creation, I’d be able to retire and just spend my time building things for fun… however taking into consideration what I get to do at work, I probably wouldn’t.

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Justin: Hands down automata artist Paul Spooner. A close second is Tim Hunkin and his ‘Secret Life of Machines’ BBC series.

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Dan: Tesla, but I guess that’s a pretty popular answer, so maybe Curt Herzstark.

 

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Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?

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Frank: You usually learn the most from failures. I actually enjoy massive failures, because that it is something that I’ll never forget and eliminates an approach, technique, or at least makes for an interesting story.

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Connor: To paraphrase Thomas Edison “I have not failed.  I’ve just found another way that will not work.”

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Justin: I have to, it’s who I am. Cliché but true. You always learn something from a failed project. The next one is ALWAYS better than the last.

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Dan: It’s whoever I promised something great to. If I don’t tell anyone about a project, I will probably just leave it in a box when it stops being fun, but if I tell someone about it, I feel obligated to deliver something, and nobody likes delivering something below expectations. This is why I usually don’t like showing unfinished work.

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What is it about Maker Faire that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?

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We like that Zaberians can get together to make something using our products. The process is fun, challenging, and team building.  We also really like that VMMF is a family event. It might sound cliché, but we look forward to the “show and tell” aspect of VMMF. We like to talk about what we have made, but we also enjoy seeing other people’s projects. We are still kids at heart!

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Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?

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Zaber’s roots are in “Making”. The company’s founders are Makers, and a lot of Zaberians are too. We also understand the vital role “making” and creativity play in building a strong community. All of the groups who participate in VMMF – crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, science clubs, students, authors, and commercial exhibitors – get together because they are passionate about making things. We feel like we have a lot in common with these folks – some of them may even one day work at Zaber or go on to start their own companies. We find this very exciting.

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For more background on Zaber’s progress for VMMF projects, please visit Zaber on Facebook to see more photos and write-ups.

 

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