Innovation, Invention, and Community Building at Maker Faire Tokyo
Japan’s thriving DIY scene was in full bloom earlier this year during Maker Faire Tokyo 2015. An international crowd gathered at Tokyo Big Sight to show off, marvel at, and talk about the fantastic array of projects on display; projects and booths ranged from the latest in 3D printers to robot bands and even to full size replica R2 units.
Maker Faire is an annual event sponsored by Make Magazine Japan (and its publishers O’Reilly Japan Inc.) designed to let the DIY community interact with each other in a public space. This year’s event was held at Tokyo Big Sight’s West Hall 4 where roughly half the space was given to community and independent exhibitors who wanted to show off their projects. Meanwhile the other half was devoted to large companies like Google and Yahoo, who had new initiatives and products to popularize. Dotted here and there throughout were learning spaces for both adults and children.
On the smaller side of things were individual projects like the guys from Astromech, who build life-size R2 units (from the Star Wars series of movies) in their spare time, and the friendly folks from Aqua Modelers, who like to make working radio-controlled submarines. (My favorite looked like Space Battleship Yamato!)
Mixed in with these projects were several small, still-trying-to-get-off-the-ground companies with unique and innovative products or services. Several groups had their own version of a microcontroller (a credit card sized computer used in many DIY projects) while others demonstrated their 3D printing equipment. Still others wanted to drum up interest in DIY musical instrument kits.
On the other side of the hall, Google had a booth to display its Cardboard Virtual Reality system, and Microsoft ran demonstrations to show how well its products could work with DIY electronics and crafts. Nearby, maker of popular DIY electronics components, Little Bits, had a booth where they gave demonstrations and hands-on training to a never-ending line of eager kids and parents of their newest tinkering kits.
A kids exploration and learning area occupied one side of the main floor, where several arts and crafts, and tinkering classes were held. Children were encouraged to create, build, and just get messy while event staff gave lessons, demonstrations, and lots of patient assistance.
The displays and projects continued outside, onto the adjoining rooftop pavillion where Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz from Eepy Bird were on hand to provide a live demonstration of just what can happen when one drops a large number of Mentos candies into a bottle of Coca-Cola. (Here’s a hint, it’s really messy! You can find their videos on YouTube under EepyBird.)
Although it was hot and crowded, both inside and outside West Hall 4, the exhibitors never failed to display their joy at sharing their innovation and hard work with the appreciative crowd. Photographs and hands-on exploration of projects and demonstrations was encouraged while friendly staff answered question after question.
So, if 3D printing, Arduino, microcontrollers, breadboards, and virtual reality mixed with family friendly community building through DIY sounds like fun to you, make a note in your calendar to attend Maker Faire Tokyo, 2016!