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
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. Please RSVP at 720-324-7222.