Overall (with one glaring exception, which I’ll write about tomorrow), it was a great weekend down in San Mateo for the 2008 Maker Faire. As far as events go, it’s almost the anti-CES. Instead of expensive, polished booths, most exhibits were on foldout tables. Instead of a team of well-trained booth staffs, the typical demonstrator was the individual or small group who personally built whatever it is that’s on display. Instead of overpriced, greasy, carnie food, we ate… oh, well, I guess some things are universal.
I spent the bulk of the days at the Bug Labs booth, where we were showing quite a few demos of the BUGbase and modules in action. Our plan was to spend much of the time creating new gadgets, but there were so many visitors that the team only created a small handful of new applications. I really liked the “digital level” application, because it was such a great conceptual explanation for the power of the crowdsource-enabled gadgets. The digital level on its own worked just like any other (although Angel, a Bug Labs engineer, coded it in about 8 minutes using the motion sensor/accelerometer module!), but it’s the future of many “connected digital levels” that is so interesting. Still not making sense? Think of it as a globally connected, yet distributed seismograph. Again, not necessarily important on its own, but its the concept that is so important.
The show was a lot of fun. Much bigger than I was anticipating, I heard over 100,000 tickets were sold! I saw some amazing demos and products, including an open-source version of Rock Band, a digital foosball table (yes, I played, and managed to beat the guys who built it – sweet), a killer room of Lego town, warring battleships, DIY everything, geekdad.com RC airplanes, a homegrownremote control R2D2, and, of course, BBQ chicken on a stick. Check out some pix from Laughing Squid and Scoble’s video too. My pix are all here, but these are some of my favorites: