Lying somewhere between an exhibition of school science projects and a presentation of company R&D concepts, Maker Faires provide a window into a world of ingenuity and creativity where talented "hands-on" types let their imaginations run wild. So what did Maker Faire Tokyo 2015 have in store?
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In Japan, these events have been educating and entertaining people for a number of years now. Maker Faire Tokyo 2015, organized now by makezine.jp (Japanese only), began as a small gathering of about 100 visitors and Makers as the Make: Tokyo Meeting in 2001. Fourteen years later, it is an event that over two days sees around 13,000 people view 300 pieces of creative work.
For Maker Faire Tokyo 2015, the ideas and events were organized into ten basic sections covering everything from electronics (the biggest) to robots and vehicles, music, space and science/craft /art. Particular emphasis was put on kids education – projects designed to help inspire scientists and electronics engineers of the future.
Major sponsors and large companies had an area devoted to them, while all of the other exhibits were mixed together. Within this mix you could find everything from intricate 3D-printed products to delicate handmade creations. Some ideas were simply held together by tape and sheer enthusiasm.
Here's a quick look at some of our favorite projects:
A company called Kinohaguruma showed a number of magnificent mechanical models made from wood, including a fully working crane and bulldozer. All built totally by hand, these large toy machines are controlled by just two levers, each with four way movement, that provides a high degree of control – a point proved by some amazing tower building demonstrations.
This graceful winged creature by mayoneko is a true experiment in aeronautics. The group makes available its designs for fixed-wing, rotor-craft and waterborne rc creations so they can be built on 3D printers. The kit for the 6-wing craft shown can also be bought for about JPY60,000 or US$483. The craft are best suited for indoor flight and it was a delight to see them in action at the Maker Faire.
Training for Jedi’s
Star Wars is coming (again) and here is a training aid to get your Jedi reflexes in shape. The Jedi Training Device uses small lasers in the light-saber that enable you to hit targets on a screen.
Built by a company called TAC, the latest version is designed to leave the word "Stars Wars" written in the air when you swing it in an arc. It also makes a light-saber crash noise when you hit something with the blade. Unfortunately, there's no word on whether budding Jedi's will be able to get their hands on one anytime soon.
Injecting character into normal everyday items is a Japanese specialty. This example, the Mononome, is a stick-on device shaped like a pair of eyes that adds personality to the Internet of Things by monitoring items it is attached to. Examples of how Mononome could be used include monitoring the temperature inside a fridge or putting on a lonely expression on a chair when it's empty.
Building your own bug
In Japan, collecting and keeping bugs and insects is a popular pastime. The Shellmo Project makes home entomologists into home roboticists by allowing you to make your own robot bugs from an open source platform. Many different variations can be created using the basic kit and the critters can be given an authentic walking gait.This brief selection represents just a fraction of the intriguing projects on display – you can continue the tour by clicking through to our Maker Faire Tokyo 2015 photo gallery.
More information: Maker Faire Tokyo 2015 (Japanese only)View gallery - 46 images