Just recently we had an opportunity to participate in Sydney’s Mini Maker Faire 2014. This was the second event of a kind being organised at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The decision to take part has been made spontaneously and one only week before ‘the day’ which, to some extent, contributed to our poor performance and lack of interest to our project but also highlighted things that must be done in order to stand out of the crowd and get noticed by people.
As a result of a pure accident we have been invited by Solidifier community to present at The Faire a DIY electronic project as part and on behalf of community’s movement. Willing to demonstrate Luminardo board we met with Solidifier guys and after a little bit of discussion decided to ‘make it more interactive’. In other words, Luminardo board would have to work in tandem with basic Android phone via Bluetooth interface. While the required Luminardo’s functionality was virtually a matter of putting all the libraries and examples together Android side was nonexistent (including both application and phone itself). We rushed to a closest mobile phone shop, picked up a budget model and spent remaining time developing and debugging Android application – all was done within the next week so the project was ready to go. What has been eventually presented is compiled in the video below. The phone acts as a remote control, allowing selection of different modes and special effects on Luminardo board. The most effective thing is probably a color picker when a particular color preselected on the phone is immediately displayed by RGB LED on the board.
While the overall experience is considered to be useful we still incline to think that this event was a ‘successful failure’ for our project. Successful because of being part of this amazing community and event, because of friendly and dedicated people that we had honor to meet. Failure because our project remained virtually noticed by no one. And it wasn’t just by chance, there were reasons for that. So, after careful consideration we have came up with a list of things that would have to be done differently when we decide to take part in an event of this type, some of the reasons are really obvious, however, it didn’t prevent us from overlooking them:
- Make sure you start working on a project well in advance before the actual event;
- Design a project specifically for the event you going to take part in instead of tailoring already existing project;
- It is really good to have a finished thing with a specific function instead of a generic platform which can do a lot but doesn’t exhibit any practical application;
- Think how to attract visitor’s attention – in case of Mini Maker Faire projects glowing with LEDs brighter and moving fast were in essence in advantageous position;
- Make sure that you present your project by yourself. That is true, other designers only care about their own things, no one else can demonstrate your project better than you;
- If it is possible, try to register as independent participant, not as a member of some group – in the end, any group’s primary intention is to promote itself, not your project;
But on a positive note, we really enjoyed the atmosphere of the Maker Faire and were pleased to see many familiar faces, look at really cool projects and people who definitely like making things.
We also would like to express our gratitude to Andrew Stone and James Zaki for organising the process and taking our project onboard.