SXSWORLD February 2013


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Whether You Make Robots, Movies or Music, Why Not Do It Yourself? by Susan Shepard 3D printer at GE Garage during SXSW 2012 16 SXSWORLD / FEBRUARY 2013 COURTESY MAKERBOT SXSW Interactive, and 3D printing is the topic of a good percentage of the sessions on the DIY/Maker/Hacker track. Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen, and Chris Anderson, who recently resigned as editor of Wired to run his 3D Robotics company, are scheduled for a session titled "Industrial Revolution 3.0 and the Future of 3D Printing." When interviewed by TechCrunch about his recent book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Anderson pointed out that maker culture and tech allow manufacturers to do what musicians have been doing—that is, although they might not have a massive audience, they will have the ability to reach one that is big enough. "What we're clearly doing is enabling a new class of entrepreneurial companies that can address markets of 10k […] when you think of 10,000, it's too small for a big company and too [large] for an individual. And yet, what the maker market does, it allows you to prototype things, get funding, and then have access to manufacturing that can sort of scale up. It allows you to target those markets of 10,000." Anderson's path to becoming a manufacturer came via DIY Drones, the online community he started when seeking how to improve hobby drones he was building with his kids. Alongside 3D printers, drones are another formerly futuristic technology now capable of being built, and hacked, by anyone. "Extreme GPS: Limits of Security and Precision" will be presented at SXSW Interactive by University of Texas Radionavigation Labs director Todd Humphreys, who made news last summer when he and his students staged a demonstration (at the invitation of U.S. Homeland Security) during which they hacked the navigational system of a military drone, forcing it to land. Humphreys came to his work in the most DIY way possible. "The most important Christmas gift I ever got was that 160-in-one Electronics Projects Kit from Radio Shack that my parents bought me when I was 14. I played with that for years," he said. "Research at the university level is strikingly similar to self-directed tinkering with toys." Now, when parents can give their kids a drone kit from Anderson's 3D Robotics, they will be able to build, for example, a small surveillance device which will require a re-evaluation of existing laws. "Hobby drones are behind commercial vendors in technology, but they are going to play a big role in the development of drone regulations," he explains. "For example, it is silly to forbid law enforcement from using drones in the same way that my 12-year-old neighbor can do any day of the week to peer into my back yard." Drones and 3D printers are a very advanced embodiment of the DIY ethos of problem-solving, and of the democratizing effect technology has had on creativity MERRICK ALES o It Yourself. This short statement, further abbreviated to DIY, has described many a musician, filmmaker or inventor with more time and ideas than money or resources. At its core, DIY means that you do what you can with what you have, and is not at all new to SXSW. Underground bands embraced it, independent filmmaking would not exist without it, and every year, new interactive platforms arise thanks to the tinkering and ideas of a few people working alone. When your product is creative, whether it is a song or a film or an app, as long as the work goes in, you have a chance of making it yourself. All you need is an instrument, a camera or a laptop. But what if the product is, unlike music or movies or software, still inseparable from a physical body or distribution? If it is a new kind of guitar pick, for instance, or a novel laptop stand Bre Pettis that can double as a travel standing desk, at some point, manufacturing demands resources that will not fit in a garage or living room, and the limits of DIY are reached. Those barriers have been progressively lowered for media in the past by affordable personal computing and digitization, and now the same thing is happening for manufacturing. For less than the list price of the first Apple Macintosh model, consumers can buy their own 3D printer, a desktop manufacturing device that can read a design file and translate it into a solid object "printed" from molten plastic. In 2009, MakerBot Industries founder Bre Pettis announced the company's launch by bringing a prototype to SXSW and printing shot glasses at bars. This March, Pettis is scheduled to give Opening Remarks at

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