ETech Makers Faire: Seeing The Light

by Timothy Appnel

As the year before, ETech featured a night of Makers exhibiting their fascinating, fun and warranty voiding work for attendees.

My favorite exhibit came from Syuzi Pakhchyan of Sparklab. Her Wearable Light and Role Play (Clothing as interface) exhibit was ingenious and quite cool. Her work started as a research project into what can be done with simple electronics and clothing as a form of self expression that evolved into a series of DIY projects. As she explained to observers one of the issues that she had to overcome with her target marker was the fear of a soldering iron. They know about sewing and making their own clothes, but picking up a soldering iron is a foreign and intimidating idea. In a stroke of genius she mixed sewing techniques with electronic materials to create forms of wearable light in clothes. Her Role Play was equally as ingenious take elements already found on clothing, such as zippers and the cords on a hoodie, and termed them into controls for other embedded electronics in cloths.

An honorable mention goes to AtariAge for its homebrew and vintage video games. (I'm a sucker for that type of stuff. There's nothing like the classics.) Homebrew games are "new, original games for classic game consoles." They produce these games in cartridge form and sell them on their online store. What's interesting is that despite being the same hardware the tools and knowledge available today to homebrew games authors allow them to create games that were not possible when these systems were first released.

There was a moment of mayhem when part of the British contingent got their hands on the Howtoons marshmallow shooters. A special sniper award goes to Esther Dyson. Always a crowd pleaser.

Phil Torrone, Make Magazine assistant editor extraordinaire, was showing his hacked up remote Bluetooth-enabled Roomba bots. By the end of the night various "weapons" and impromptu gadgets had been taped onto these bots for some robot war action. Zipping precariously across 2 tables 4 foot off the floor it was more like sumo wrestling meets the demolition derby.

If only science fairs when I were a kid were this fun.