Maker Faire: The Internet of (Cool) Things


Have you recently wrestled with a Rubik’s Cube? Struggled to solder? Prototyped with a 3D printer? Deployed a drone? Then maybe I saw you at the Maker Faire this last weekend.

The Maker Faire is a spinoff event of O’Reilly’s Make magazine. A hybrid science fair/county fair, Maker Faire brings together thousands of hackers, builders, artists, cooks, gardeners, crafters, and others, all eager to strut their stuff and learn from each other in a spirit of open collaboration. There are 3D printers, Tesla coils, and crazy vehicles galore. And there’s stuff to gawk at, such as a 26-foot-tall fire-spouting metal octopus made of scrap metal, a drone battle zone, and a musical stage powered by listeners – the faster the audience pedals, the louder the music.

It’s a lot of fun, but the Maker Faire has a serious side, too: To encourage experimentation, creativity, and problem-solving. Many exhibits and activities are made for kids, and some of them are made by kids. My favorite of those featured 12-year-old Saurabh Narain, who has built a robot based on Lego Mindstorms EV3 Intelligent Brick that can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 30 moves and less than two minutes. You have to see it to believe it. But don’t feel bad about being bested by a ‘bot: Saurabh’s proud father admitted to me that he can’t solve the Rubik’s Cube either.

Many Maker Faire exhibitors showed projects and products built on the Internet of Things (IoT). Intel displayed projects based on its Galileo microcontroller board. The people who make, a matchbook-sized, much-anticipated hardware/software toolkit for low-power wireless mesh-network projects, took orders. Nonprofit Manylabs showed bundled sensors, controllers and online science lessons.

Controllers, sensors and networks are great, but what do you do with the data they collect? That’s where Actuate and BIRT come in. BIRT can deliver visualization of sensor data and real time personalized analytics for enterprise-grade IoT projects. We showed our chops at EclipseCon earlier this year, when Kris Clark built a real-time environmental dashboard. Actuate is an active participant in the fledgling Eclipse IoT Working Group.

Actuate may not have a Rubik’s Cube-solving robot, but we can help developers solve a different sort of puzzle: How to handle data generated by the Internet of Things. Download and try BIRT today.


OpenText is the leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM). Our EIM products enable businesses to grow faster, lower operational costs, and reduce information governance and security risks by improving business insight, impact and process speed.

Related Articles