The “Makers and Shakers” keynote is probably my favorite keynote of the week. It’s always in the morning, after the [usually epic] VMworld Party (see my Twitter feed: @vMattK for pics/videos of that). Anyway, for this keynote VMware brings in different speakers who talk about their role in innovation and how they are making the world a better place for everyone. The theme was really around putting affordable, fun technology into the hands of kids, adults, the computer savvy and not-so-savvy, to embrace the world seen around them and see or experience it in a different way.
Jay Silver started with his really interesting take on shifting the way we see the world. What if we could “see” the pattern of wind or “hear” the resistance of electricity. He showcased the MaKey MaKey kit and what people around the world have done with it. The MaKey MaKey Invention Kit is an affordable ($50) kit which includes everything you need to create an electronic musical instrument out of the world around you (http://www.makeymakey.com). From kids to professional musicians, the MaKey MaKey was embraced with this sort of passion that you don’t usually see with technology. You can also take a look at his presentation on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/jay_silver_hack_a_banana_make_a_keyboard.html.
Keller Rinuado was up next, with Romotive. It was such a new and refreshing look at robotics: simplify, make it affordable, make it fun, and make it for everyone. Romotive is making just the coolest robot that uses the brain of an iPhone for processing and programming, complete with a simple programming interface (visual programming on iPhone). Seeing kids programming a robot to do things was incredibly inspiring. The Romo is easy to use for amateurs but is also built with powerful APIs, so even more advanced programmers wouldn’t be bored and can do amazing things. Romo has this goofy, friendly face (when the app is up) and can be controlled by any other iOS device. It seems like such an amazing way to get kids interested in science. You can get a Romotive Romo robot for $149.00. Yep - a real, working robot for $150 (you supply an old iPhone). Video: http://vimeo.com/64614558 and Website: http://romotive.com/meet-romo.
Bre Pettis was the final speaker and talked about building the first affordable 3D printer. Bre has this super dynamic presentation that was engaging and moving. He talked about how they got started and his vision of having affordable 3D printers, so people can do be their own creator, manufacturer, and sharer: introducing the MakerBot – a desktop 3D printer. The most impactful story was of a person who lost his fingers. Two continents apart, two people in the MakerBot community exchanged CAD drawings of a relatively simple hand with 5 articulating fingers. Through refinement and rapid prototyping, they developed a hand that someone can print at home. Bre’s talked about kids, who have problems with their hands (maybe they had an accident or were born with a birth defect). He explained how expensive prosthetics are and how kids rapidly outgrow them. With a community contributed design and their own affordable 3D printer, a parent can print fingers. They can dramatically improve the life of their loved one through community contributions and home manufacturing. See: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/06/18/191279201/3-d-printer-brings-dexterity-to-children-with-no-fingers. MakeBot also has a “Thingiverse”, which is a community of contributed designs for the MakerBot. The MakerBot manufacturing facility is out of Brooklyn, NY and all are built and shipped with “Brooklyn Pride”. MakerBot just designed and released their first digitizer, which can 3D scan an object and digitize it into a file, which can be edited and printed on their 3D printers. Check out MakerBot: http://www.makerbot.com and hear Bre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee_8IMx0uMo&list=PL71B138B45A841272.