The past weekend saw the Bay Area's 9th annual Maker Faire return to San Mateo, CA. For those unfamiliar with the event, it is part county fair, part low-key trade show and (mostly) features the work of 900+ independent and early-stage inventors/researchers across a wide range of sectors.
The focus of a lot of the exhibition areas is on fun and general creativity rather than cutting-edge innovation but the Expo Hall plays host to more scientific stands. Since makers were grouped according to product type (e.g. 3D printing, robotics) rather than use-case, projects relating to specific interests such as biotech/health were a bit hard to identify.
Nevertheless, they were there and in growing numbers, judging by the anecdotal accounts of regular attendees and the makers listed online. Here's a short list of some of the more interesting projects in alphabetical order:
- Biomonstaaar: An open-source biohacker project, the aim of which is to rebuild expensive biotech equipment out of off-the-shelf parts. The current focus is on an affordable, automatic photobioreactor array. Projects in a similar vein were AlgaeLab and Sensabot.
- Bionico: An open-source, myoelectric prosthesis, produced via 3D printing to serve as a low-cost robot hand for disabled people. The creators, led by amputee Nicholas Huchet, are not professional prosthesis manufacturers and none of them has a medical background.
- CellScope: A piece of equipment that turns mobile devices into diagnostic-quality microscopes. A group of students and post-docs from UC Berkeley and UCSF who have been pioneering mobile microscopy developed the product which can be applied in both health and education contexts. The spin-off startup CellScope Inc. is part of Rock Health's portfolio.
- Biocurious: This group had a few projects on show but the most interesting was its bioprinter. The hackerspace community has built its own using an inkjet cartridge, an Arduino and CD drives.
- Inspire: A device to provide healthcare workers with an accurate breath-rate reading and therefore diagnose pneumonia. Inspire was invented by Michael Script, CEO of Guardian Technologies.