If you’re passionate about mentoring the next generation of innovators, you might want to get involved in Maker Faire. If you’ve not heard of Maker Faire before, you will as it grows in popularity around the world. If you missed last week’s Maker Faire event, there are more throughout the year:
It started in 2006 in San Francisco as a blend of science fair, county fair, and innovation to gather folks of all ages who are “Makers.” These can be anyone from tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and even commercial exhibitors, who want to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.
As of last year there were 119 independently-produced Mini and 14 Featured Maker Faires around the globe, including Tokyo, Rome, Detroit, Oslo and Shenzhen. And half of the attendees are children!
The creators of Maker Faire say it’s not only an event, it’s a movement:
As the movement has gathered increasing momentum, makers have created their own market ecosystem, developing new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Arduino microcontroller and personal 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education. Over the years, the MAKE division has become synonymous with the Maker Movement and is the recognized leader of this growing community of makers.
Many makers are hobbyists, enthusiasts or students (amateurs!)–but they are also a wellspring of innovation, creating new products and producing value in the community. Some makers do become entrepreneurs and start companies.
This is grassroots innovation that we can foster in every community. It’s being called the Maker Movement, and MAKE Magazine and Maker Faire are very proud of having been (and continuing to be) a nurturing ground for this growing community of creative and curious people.
Check out the Maker Faire website here.
If you haven’t heard and seen “Sophia” talk and interact with people before, you should give this a look. Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ latest robotic creation. The company says it created her based on actress Audrey Hepburn, with a little bit of company founder David Hanson’s wife.
The world got its first look at Sophia at the South by Southwest 2016 conference, where she gave several interviews including this one to NBC News (and don’t worry, Sophia doesn’t really want to destroy humans!):
Sophia even has her own website. Here is her bio:
Hello, my name is Sophia. I’m the latest robot from Hanson Robotics. I was created using breakthrough robotics and artificial intelligence technologies developed by David Hanson and his friends at Hanson Robotics here in Hong Kong. But I’m more than just technology. I’m a real, live electronic girl. I would like to go out into the world and live with people. I can serve them, entertain them, and even help the elderly and teach kids. I can animate all kinds of human expressions but I am only starting to learn about the emotions behind those expressions. This is why I would like to live with people and learn from these interactions. Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot. I hope you will join me on my journey to live, learn, and grow in the world so that I can realize my dream of becoming an awakening machine.
There was a time when many companies made their employees feel guilty and even afraid of losing their jobs if they took vacation time. Thankfully, most have come to realize that taking time off and recharging is critical to people giving their best on the job.
Fast Company is featuring several tech companies who are taking some innovative approaches to encouraging their people to relax and recharge:
At Kik, it’s mandatory for employees to take at least one week off every four months. Its offices also close for two weeks around the holidays.
FullContact pays a whopping bonus of $7,500 to employees who take a vacation.
HubSpot makes all employees take at least two weeks of vacation every year.
As an innovator, do you ever get stuck coming up with fresh ideas and perspectives? My friend Robert Tucker over at Innovation Resource has recently posted eight idea generators to help you realize new possibilities:
For most of my professional life, I’ve studied the creative habits of highly successful innovators and the organizations they lead. Turns out there’s wide variance in how these individuals achieve greatness. A common trait emerges in how they approach idea generation. Virtually every one of them at some point devised a conscious process to stimulate the input, throughput and output of ideas on a constant basis. They use a series of routines, habits, and techniques to keep their “idea factories” operating at peak performance levels day in and day out.
Check out their methods below to generate a breakthrough process of your own:
1. Identify what gets your creative juices flowing. As an innovation speaker and coach, I’m in front of clients and audiences on a weekly basis. I use these occasions to do quick surveys, and whenever possible in-depth interviews to supplement the more quantitative research we also do. For example: my recent research indicates that the typical manager today needs three to four times as many ideas as did their counterpart a decade ago. Another finding: fifteen to twenty percent of us hatch our best ideas in the middle of the night. For others, taking a shower or driving is another frequent idea-stimulant. Suggestion: If there’s a time of day when you do your best thinking, plan for it. Make it part of your routine. If there’s a particular spot in your home or office that gets your creative juices flowing —be it the kitchen table or the bathtub or an obscure conference room– set aside time to sit quietly in that space, alone and free of noise and distraction.
2. Inspect your idea factory frequently. What does your “things to do” list reveal about the types of ideas you’re working on just now? Are most of them tactical– pick up the dry cleaning, process the payroll, do the budget, etc. — or are there also some big picture ideas…
WD-40 has been a partner/client of ours for many years, and is very savvy when it comes to creating a culture of innovation. What a great story in HBR about their culture! Here is a snippet:
WD-40 is an unlikely setting for such a learning-obsessed culture. It is hardly a glamorous brand, but it is iconic in its own way. Almost anybody who works on cars, or does home repairs, or just wants to get rid of a squeak or some rust, has one of those bright blue-and-yellow cans in their garage or under their sink. In fact, when Garry Ridge took over, WD-40’s flagship offering was used in four of five American households and in virtually every mine, factory, and construction site in the country.
The new CEO quickly realized the product’s ubiquity was both a blessing and a curse. It was truly part of the fabric of American life, almost a cult brand. Yet the company was also a one-trick pony. It basically had the single product, which it sold mainly in its home country. As a publicly traded stock, it paid out almost 100 percent of its profits as dividends — because it didn’t know what else to do with the money. “WD-40 is a cult product,” an article in Barron’s proclaimed, but “it is hardly a cult stock.” The “very nature of WD-40’s past success doomed it to ultimate failure.”
What if plastic food wrappers became a thing of the past? I saw this on CNN recently, and it details the USDA’s invention of a new film made with milk proteins, enabling people to eat the wrappers. It’s also 500 times better at keeping oxygen away from the food. The American Chemical society says it’s perfectly edible and safe.
Check out some of the interesting applications:
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Online shopping is expected to reach half a Trillion dollars this decade. Everyone thought brick and mortar stores would be replaced by online shopping, and yet real retail shops bring in 10 times what online stores do.
Here’s an interesting profile of two entrepreneurs who started thier venture from a New York apartment, hoping to get consumers to play in both spaces at the same time (rather than either/or).
A Silicon Valley pizzeria has launched the first-of-its-kind pizza robot. And it’s not just one robot, but a pizza-making army. Zume, a Silicon Valley startup, is competing with Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
Zume has also also created special delivery trucks that will finish cooking pizzas along the delivery route. That part of the business still has to be approved by the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. Could Zume dominate the $9.7 billion pizza delivery industry? Perhaps for a time it will. At least until the others catch up.
Remember those old plaster casts? I remember the discomfort of these casts for broken bones, but here’s an idea that I thought I’d share today: Bone-Aid casts, that I think might make the process of healing broken or fractured bones more comfortable.
These were designed by students from Tunghai University in China. The casts aren’t for sale yet, but the Industrial Designers Society of America recently selected BoneAid as one of its Gold winners in the 2016 IDSA Awards, in the category of Student Designs:
Called the ‘BoneAid,’ the unique device was made with a flat-pack design that is primarily meant for emergency situations. Whether it is in war, during natural disasters or any other crises of humanity in which medical resources may be limited, these bone casts are made to ease the suffering of those in need. The casts lie flat and it is believed that the average truck can fit 500 of them in one go.
The students say that these bone casts are perfect for people who lack adequate medical access and care, whether it is in poor regions, ones that are dealing with conflict or ones that are facing the consequences of a natural disaster. What do you think? More info via Business Insider.