Why Your Next Product Could Come from a Maker-Faire

Remember when Legos came in piece-sets as opposed to tied to some specific object? I’d just dump all 300+ (or 1000+) pieces on the floor and get building. Castles, moonscapes, a walled garden and once a huge moving city were constructed out of my imagination. 

Do you have a father or grandfather who would disappear into the basement or garage, where the “man cave” wasn’t a plush recliner with flat screen and surround sound, but a dank, rough space with tools, maybe an old radio and bits and pieces of projects that never quite got finished? My grandfather  visited an apt I was living in in NYC during the mid-90’s. Opened up one of my closets, took a few measurements, and by the next time I saw him had custom built me a shelving and drawer unit that fit perfectly into one of the closet corners.

Ok, family stories aside, what’s the correlation between the two? In our day of digital age where companies are running out of inspiration for “the next big thing” and there becomes a closer and closer tie to our inherent biometrics and computing, gatherings like maker-faires or maker-groups are giving people the opportunity to once again explore the edges of their imagination.

I’m intrigued by the amount of growing interest in maker groups, many of them I see stemming out of cities where there isn’t extra space for your table saw, belt sander and Arduino kit (saw dust and soldering are never compatible), and getting a few friends together to rent a cheap space seems like a good option. 

Another side of the equation are the amount of micro devices such as Raspberry Pi’s that allow small bits of data transmitting. The opportunities to create your own personal technology are seemingly endless. 

Companies in search of inspiration should pay attention to this. Tying together people’s personal interests and/or technology could help jump start the process. Maybe the next best way to innovate your product would be to host a “maker day” and allow employees to unplug and recharge their creative juices.

I know I’m certainly interested in liberating my personal projects off the dining room table. 

Have you ever been to maker-faire or group? What would inspire you to join?

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