Saturday at Maker Faire Rome was family day, and the Gazometro di Roma was full of excited children of all ages taking in the sights and sounds of the event. The Electromaker Team took the opportunity to catch up on some of the exhibitors we missed on Friday, and there were some incredible things on show! Before reading this, it may be worth reading part one of this roundup!
Robot Rock with the One Love Machine Band
Visitors to Maker Faire Rome were lucky enough to witness a truly special performance. The robots who make up the One Love Machine band are every bit as chaotic and clanky as they look, and they look spectacular!
This mechanical musical marvel is the long-term project of Kolja Kugler. An early collaborator with the Mutoid Waste Company, Kolja uses scrap as his paint to create living sculptures out of what others would consider junk. Initially starting out as static statues, the members of the One Love Machine band slowly came to life through pressurized air, each pneumatic addition providing more movement and character to the band. Now an ensemble made up of a drummer, bassist, scrap birds, and a pair of dancing legs, they clatter and rattle out cathartic Midi-controlled music in a process dubbed by the artist as Actionbition - an Exhibition with Action.
As well as enjoying the show, we had the chance to sit down for a quick chat with Kolja, talking about the early days of the band and how a life of scrap passion makes it difficult to find a permanent home for his work.
3D Print a House with the Crane WASP
We were already familiar with WASP, an Italian company specializing in different kinds of industrial 3d printers. The Wasp Crane, however, is something on a scale we've never seen live before. Dubbed an "Infinity printer," the Crane WASP is a reconfigurable 3D printer capable of creating structures from concrete.
@electromaker.io The Crane Wasp is a 3D printer for houses. This is part of their starter kit at Maker Faire Rome 2022 #mkr2022 #3dprinting #3dprinter #3dprintinglife ♬ original sound - Electromaker
It's impressive to see it in action, and the process is a little faster than we expected. The ability to use other materials also opens the machine up to multi-faceted structures, using concrete for the shell and other forms of clay for non-load-bearing filler.
The concept has been around for a while, and we even talked about it on the Electromaker Show a long time back, but seeing it in action is quite an impressive thing to witness! We aren't quite at the stage where you could rent a machine to build a house for you, but the Crane WASP has already built structures all over the world, and it's going to be an interesting technology to follow.
An Accessibility Focused Smart Glove
On our travels, we ran into Michaela Gallucci, who brought a smart glove project with a twist. Alongside its utility, this project has a firm focus on accessibility and a lot of thought behind its operation. We were able to interview Michaela about the build, and how a project she worked on for fun in her spare time house ended up flying all the way to Europe for Maker Faire!
In short, the glove allows access to the full computer keyboard, with each finger representing a letter and the thumb switching through different sets of letters. A small flex of each fingerprints a letter via Bluetooth, and the cleverly designed language system prioritizes the most commonly used letters to be easier to access than others.
Why? Well, not everyone finds using a regular computer keyboard comfortable. Whether through injury or disability, typing isn't always an easy task. Home-grown accessibility projects like this are fantastic to see, and we're excited to see where the project leads in the future! Find out more about Michaela via her Linktree.
There were a number of interesting robots on show at Maker Faire Rome too, including the robot footballers we mentioned in yesterday's roundup, and many smaller wheeled robots - including this cute little beastie on the Raspberry Pi stand:
One that caught our eye was an interesting twist on an already existing design. Italian research company Biosphaera has taken the OHBOT, a low-cost robot face programmable in Scratch, and repurposed it as an Autism therapy tool.
It's worth noting that the team stressed that this project is in the very early stages of development. They are looking for both expert and financial help to get the project out there. Contact them via their website if you think you can help. Since current therapy robots are scarce and incredibly expensive, it was fantastic to see a grassroots team taking on such important research.
On a slightly different note, we also found it hard to miss Brillo - a huge robotic bartender that combines dexterous industry-grade robotic arms with an uncanny back-projected human face. While drinks-making robots aren't new (in fact, we've seen a few here at Electromaker), this one does a few things differently.
Alongside the incredible hardware involved - it's rare to see such high-level hardware used in these kinds of projects - there were some even more impressive things happening under the hood. This isn't just something that can make drinks. This is a robotic bartender, Sympathetic ear and all.
Brillo has an array of cameras up front, along with microphones, and is designed to gauge the mood of the customer, just like any good barkeep. It'll make small talk based on the vibe of the customer, and it's always learning more. Being an Italian research project at a busy Maker Faire, it was both the wrong place and language to get our own cocktails made by Brillo, but there are plans to add an English voice to Brillo in the future, and who knows if one of Brillo's siblings may be serving you a Mojito in the future?
Affordable Orthotics, Modular Midi
Personalized Orthotic inserts can be a life changer, but they can also be far too expensive to be accessible to all. Italian startup Medere was started by three biomedical engineers who are combining modern technologies to make personalized orthotic inserts not only affordable but available in any location. We spoke with Marco Mannisi from Medere about the origins of the company, what they have achieved already, and what they are planning for the future.
The project hinges on two main ideas. The first is gathering personalized data about foot shape and foot strike. This is achieved using a custom smartphone app for gathering precise foot measurements and, more recently, specialized sensor-laden insoles with a small motion sensor that attaches to the top of the shoe giving precise foot strike measurements.
Secondly comes the inserts themselves, which are 3d printed using a composite material - though a large proportion is TPU therefore low cost - which can be shipped directly to the customer at a fraction of the price of traditional custom orthotics.
As a runner who has relied on custom orthotics in the past, it's great to see a startup not only take on the problem of cost but facilitate corrective behavior to help in recovery.
Just across the way, we ran into Special Waves, a company creating completely modular MIDI/TouchOSC devices. They were keen to show off how they've moved from purely music and VJ-oriented products into things used in office settings. Their controllers are even part of a banking hardware system now
@electromaker.io Special Waves make fully modular Midi and Touch OSC controllers that can be rearranged on the fly. So cool! #midi #touchosc #ableton #resolume #mfr2022 #synth #vj #dj #music #makingmusic ♬ original sound - Electromaker
While this is extremely cool, as a lapsed VJ and Ableton fanatic, I found it hard to ignore the possibilities of a completely modular controller with such a rich software backend.
Roll on Maker Faire Rome 2023!
We had a fantastic time at Maker Faire Rome, and while we were very busy trying to cover everything, we still had a great time just looking around at what everyone brought with them. It was also an exciting time in terms of new projects too. As well as the new Make Your Uno kits, Arduino announced an upcoming smart clothing project in collaboration with Edge Impulse.
Today, we announced our partnership with K-Way for creating a new idea of smart clothing using the Nicla Sense. And stay tuned for our call for developers, opening October 18th with the support of @EdgeImpulse! #MFR2022 pic.twitter.com/tS96GOgYmM— Arduino (@arduino) October 9, 2022
There were so many amazing projects we simply didn't have time to cover while we were there, and we cannot wait to go through our notes and share them with you. If you haven't visited Maker Faire Rome, the event goes from strength to strength, and this 10-year celebration was one to remember. It's the perfect event for the whole family, right in the middle of one of Europe's most beautiful and historic cities.
We cannot wait until next year - see you there?