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Meet Your Maker: IoT Design Shop


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.


 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.


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!


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.



Bring Your E-Waste to the Faire for Free Recycling!

Is there an old Atari in your attic? A Commodore 64 in your closet? The Hackery will be at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire to take your unwanted computers and components! There’s no charge for recycling, and no limit to how old or broken the components can be. In fact, there’s room on their museum wall for a few more historical artifacts. Bring all your odds-and-ends of electronics, cables, phones, and what-nots to the Faire and The Hackery will make sure that they will be either reused or responsibly recycled.
They can accept anything computer-related for recycling, whether it’s in working order or not:

  • Computers – complete or in parts
  • Laptops – complete or in parts
  • LCD’s – Computer or TV
  • Motherboards and accessory cards
  • Computer cables, wires
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Network equipment
  • Printers and scanners
  • Game consoles
  • Cell phones
  • UPS – Uninterruptible Power Supplies
  • Home electronics(Stereos, DVD players, etc)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • CRT Monitors
  • CD & DVDs
Donated computers will have their hard drives wiped or crushed to keep data away from prying eyes.
They can’t accept:
  • Tube TV’s
  • Kitchen appliances (microwaves, coffee machines, etc.)
  • Toner or ink cartridges
  • Photocopiers
  • Smoke detectors
  • PCB containing light ballasts

.E-waste recycling will be available all weekend, next to the VMMF information booth outside of the entry. Send your friends too! Cool things happen to people who recycle.

The Hackery has been repairing and recycling computers since 2008. They’re a local company offering a local solution to the global e-waste problem, specializing in component-level repairs that other shops turn away. And for gear that’s ready to retire, they ensure that every part is recycled ethically – and free of charge.


Make sure you catch The Hackery’s exhibit at the Faire – the majority of what they make are repairs, which are often tucked away inside of a device where no one can see them, so this year they’re turning things inside out! Their exhibit, Behind the Screens, shows the inner workings of common devices, from cell phones to Playstations, laid bare for all to see. Staples from our modern world have been saved from recycling, repaired in their shop, then carefully cut open in such a way to preserve functionality. You can finally see what makes your laptop tick or your TV light up!

Come down and try your hand at playing Pac-man on half a TV. See if you can still use a cell phone when the parts aren’t where you expect. And most of all, get a glimpse of the world hiding right beneath the surface of our daily lives.

For more information on how to recycle your e-waste at The Hackery year-round, check their website, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


Guest Blogger, Matthew Murray: The Machine: Using a Raspberry Pi for Readers’ Advisory



Raspberry Pi is a tiny, low-cost computer that was created to teach young people about computer science and programming. They’ve been embraced by the maker community and are being used for everything from robots to spinning wheels to cellphones to Minecraft servers.


A few months ago I saw a post on Tumblr that showed an “Electr-O-Matic Book Fortune Teller” that used an Arduino (a computer similar to a Raspberry Pi) to print book recommendations onto receipt paper when people pushed a button. This seemed like a relatively easy project for myself and some other students to use to get experience working with a Raspberry Pi.

The first step was setting up the Raspberry Pi itself. Raspberry Pis run a version of Linux that’s a lot less scary than you might think. We messed up our installation, but you don’t have to do that!


Next we had to set up the mini thermal printer (we bought ours from Adafruit). This involved cutting and stripping some wires, then screwing them into a DC power adapter so we could plug the printer into a power source. Then we installed the printer driver onto the Raspberry Pi.


Once we did that we connected the printer to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins using the included wires and printed off a test page.


Actually, first we wondered why nothing was working once we’d hooked everything up. Turns out you need to plug the HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi in order to have anything show up on the computer screen. Despite being supposedly intelligent, tech-savvy graduate students, we forgot to do this at least four five times (so far) during this project.

Once we had the printer working we started work on hooking up the button. This is a complicated process that involves:
1. Acquiring a button that doesn’t actually have the necessary connectors.
2. Purchasing the wrong resistors.


Of course you can choose not to follow our steps directly and just get the proper pieces the first time. Either way, you then wire everything into a breadboard and connect it to your Raspberry Pi. (Your breadboard doesn’t have to be quite so long, but we ended up using ten resistors instead of one because we originally had the wrong type.)


You’ll then have to install or create a program on the Raspberry Pi that understands when your button has been pushed and tells the printer to print a review. We’ll hopefully have one available on our blog soon! The reviews for our machine are ones that we wrote and include title, author, and a brief description. You could choose to include other information such as ISBNs or call numbers.

Once all of that is done you’ll have a working machine that will print off book recommendations! You’ll probably want to get some sort of box to put everything in, but we’re still working on that.


We haven’t completely finished this project yet, but we’ll be posting updates (and eventually complete instructions) to the ASIS&T at UBC blog! In the future we might expand the machine so that it will have more than one button to allow readers to pick from different genres, moods, or other qualities (books with covers the colour of the buttons?)


We’ll be showing off our machine at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire on June 7th-8th at the PNE, you should come by and check it out!

About the Author:






Matthew Murray is currently completing a Masters of Library and Information Studies at UBC. He’s a member of ASIS&T at UBC (without whom this project could not have happened!) and is excited about bringing technology like the Raspberry Pi into libraries. He’s probably working on too many projects right now. He also really likes monsters and comic books.

















Guest Blogger, Stephanie Ostler: Making a Difference – Buying Better Means Buying Less.

11 years ago I created a clothing company. I was fresh out of high school, full of energy, and naive about what I was getting myself into. Calling it Devil May Wear, I began with a passion for self expression and providing an exceptional service – but soon my experiences with chemicals in clothing and the growing list of human rights atrocities would begin to lead me down a road of fashion activism.
 I often speak with students graduating from their fashion programs, and  they tell me “I don’t think I can work in fashion. It is too unethical, and too polluting.”
“That,” I respond, “is exactly why you must.” Fashion is, after all, the second largest industrial user of fresh water and one of the greatest causes of environmental degradation, in addition to boasting an appalling history of slave labour and sweat shops. We aren’t going to change it by turning a blind eye to the problems but by using our skills, our knowledge, and our creativity to provide better options for our bodies, our lives, and our planet. And the best part is better options are just more fun!
Those luxury fibers that feel so good on your body, wear so well in the long run, keep you cool on hot summer days and warm on soggy winter nights – the textiles you just can’t keep your hands off are often the very same ones that are better for your body and for the world. Textiles made from materials like bamboo, the fastest growing plant we can make textiles from, and which is also all organic because there is simply no need to use pesticides on it.
The local, wearable art of true artisans making special, one-of-a-kind items personally for you (or so true to fit that they seem as if they were made from your specs) let you show off your exceptional taste and enjoy something made with love, with the added benefit of keeping your money in your local economy. They are the kind of items that may cost more in the short run, but save us money and resources in the long run –  we desire less because we love what we already own – and because quality goods typically last  much longer than cheap, mass-produced  items, we have no need to replace these items frequently.
The same premise applies to the food we consume, the vehicles we drive, the houses we live in, the communities we are a part of. My background is fashion but we are all connected, and we can all enjoy living better in every aspect of our lives. Information is key – we must strive for the truth behind products, companies, and laws. We’re not going to change the world by waiting for policy makers to dictate what we can and can’t do, or by continuing with business as usual, or even by nagging each other with depressing statistics and “granola” clothing,  but  by changing the way we choose what we buy. By taking the time to find the items we love, that will last us a lifetime. By seeking out items as close to natural as possible, and manufactured close to home. And when you are proud of the beauty you have let into your life, you will inspire others to live better. This way we can spread a revolution of luxury, and quality, and of hope for a better – dare I say sustainable – and more equitable world we can enjoy for generations to come.
When I launched Devil May Wear, I didn’t realize the responsibilities I’d have as a business owner in my community. Now that we’ve grown into a company with two stores, international sales, and a fantastic staff of passionate individuals, we’ve also grown and evolved to offer better products for a better planet. By not only designing but also sewing everything in Vancouver we create more local jobs; we make everything in our Vancouver studio as opposed to in a sweat shop; and we control our quality so we aren’t over-producing unsellable quantities in order to fill quotas, which in turn fills up landfills. We can respond to trends faster, make clothing that fits and appeals to our growing client base, and offer free, minor alterations (after all, our customers don’t all have cookie cutter bodies and preferences!) We use sustainable fibers and textiles with fewer chemicals and carcinogens than conventionally milled fabrics. After all, if we’re sewing it we don’t want to be inhaling or absorbing all the fire retardants and petrol chemicals used these days any more than we want our customers to be wearing them!
Please come to my talk at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire to learn more about the impact of fashion, and how you can enjoy it better. Or come visit us in one of our stores and see for yourself what change looks like!

About the author:
Guest blogger Stephanie Ostler is on a mission to save the planet, one pair of bamboo underwear at a time. She’s the founder of Devil May Wear, an award-winning Vancouver-based clothing line that is committed to staying locally made and as sustainable as possible. Using body-friendly fabrics like bamboo, soy, and organic cotton, she strives to cover your butt (literally) with feel-good fabrics and awesome cuts for your curves.