DIY

Tonight: Surf the DIY world with the Denver Maker Group

What exactly is a Maker, anyway? Obviously, it's someone who, well, makes stuff. But a Maker is more specifically an inventor of sorts, who works in cross-disciplinary realms where technology and the arts collide. There's a fierce DIY spirit among Makers, who tend to surf and hack their way across the expanse of the Internet, looking for one another and co-creating a future present. Denver designer Lynne Bruning, who makes garments using conductive fibers, is one, and she's just returned from a Maker Faire, one of many major Maker expo/conviviums held in major cities across the nation by like-minded creators-on-the-edge, bringing in tow a pair of remarkable Chicago Makers, Josh Billions, creator of the MapBag, and Harvey Moon, creator of the Drawing Machine. For reference, here's a little background on the MapBag and what it can do:

The MapBag contains a small microcontroller, a GPS chipset, and a series of 8 vibration motors sewn into the bag. The microcontroller constantly evaluates the wearer's current heading and the location of magnetic North, or the relative location of a user-defined waypoint (such as home). The microcontroller informs the wearer of compass information through the vibration motors, basically allowing you to read a compass with your body. 

After using the MapBag for a few weeks, the slight pulses used to convey heading information have become second nature. Most importantly, I no longer find myself using street signs or depending on landmarks to discern my position in the city's grid.

And here's a video demonstrating the Drawing Machine:

Whoa. You don't have to be a Maker to find all of this fascinating, so feel free to feed your sense of amazement: The pair of technological artist-geniuses have agreed to stop over in Denver on their way back to Chicago to meet with the Denver Makers Group during a free event tonight at 7 p.m. at Club Workshop, 999 Vallejo Street, Unit 2. They'll discuss and demonstrate their projects, and you're invited, too. Get more information at the Denver Makers website or visit the Denver Makers Facebook page. Please RSVP at 720-324-7222.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd