Maker Faire Bay Area 2019 Day 1 Highlights: Sony Meets Watson, Raspberry Pi Budding Makers, and More

While there are loads of maker faire events around the world, Maker Faire San Mateo is one of the two flagship Maker Faire events. Held at the San Mateo Event Center, the massive three-day celebration of maker culture brings together a unique mix of demographics. Here are the highlights from Maker Faire Bay Area 2019!

Our good friends at the Raspberry Pi Foundation have a fantastic set up. As Matt Richardson Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America explained, its focus is on getting a younger generation involved in technology. Sure enough, its workstations, which consisted of a monitor, Pi board, and the official Raspberry Pi keyboard/mouse were all occupied by gleeful children. Whether or not the individual kids go into tech or not doesn't matter. It's an empowering experience, and something as simple as manipulating code to light up a LED can seem like a major accomplishment. 

Sony, best-known for its consumer tech like the PlayStation 4 or noise-canceling headphones, offers a strong IoT presence. Its Spresense board and plentiful add-ons is incredibly robust. Senior Manager of IoT Solutions Business Division Yoshinori Oota and Senior Strategic Business Development Manager Jonas Pettersson demoed their Spresense board running IBM Watson for several awesome applications. These included a "rock, paper, scissors" device. With no hand underneath, it simply read "no hand." But put a hand underneath with rock, paper, or scissors hand signals, and it quickly identified them. Likewise, Sony exhibited a device to identify ripe tomatoes. There was even a completely automated AI-powered greenhouse. Aside from AI, there was a DIY MP3 player with the Spresese and a music player add-on. Researchers at the University of Arizona used the Spresense for an artificial intelligence-powered bird call identification device. 

We're huge fans of maker boards, and the awesome folks over at BeagleBoard demonstrated their forthcoming BeagleBoard AI. As the name suggests, it's a tiny board capable of running AI projects. Onboard, there's a micro HDMI, microSD card slot, and USB-C among other I/O ports. I saw it running a full Linux distro, and handling an artificial intelligence demo. With a camera connected, the BeagleBoard AI was able to rapidly identify different different objects such as mugs and sunglasses.

3D printing has become even more exciting and accessible. Prusa had its printers, which have become the industry standard, set up and running. Beam 3D showed off its LCD printer with a host of useful features such as built-in resin calibration, an auto-leveling build plate, built-in resin profiles, and more. 

One of my favorite devices was the HackerPet or CleverPet This Particle-powered device features touchpads, and is an educational toy pet feeder. Merely load up the HackerPet with treats, and your pet can experiment with touching the different pads on the front to see which will open it. What's neat is that it only takes a few minutes to set up, and users may begin fiddling with code to change different variables, thereby making new puzzles for their pets. 

Thanks to all organizers, volunteers, and attendees for an awesome start to Maker Faire 2019 San Mateo! If you're around, come say hey! You can hit us up at Electromaker on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as contact Senior Editor Moe Long on Twitter or Instagram!

Moe Long

Moe Long is an editor, writer, and tech buff with a particular appreciation for Linux, Raspberry Pis, and retro gaming. When he's not hammering away at his keyboard, he enjoys running, reading, watching cinema, and listening to vinyl. You can read his writings on film and pop culture at CupOfMoe.com and check out his thoughts on movies on the Celluloid Fiends podcast.


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