It is no secret that Ottawa is full of talent of both an artistic and technical nature. Doors across the city conceal people working on special projects. This Saturday and Sunday (August 16 and 17) a number of these hidden works will be on display at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology in the fun and interactive event – Maker Faire.
I spoke with Remco Volmer who is Program and Development Manager at ArtEngine, the Ottawa-based collective focused on technology-based art that organizes the event. The first Maker Faire was held in 2010 and last year drew as many as 4,500 people. This year will be the biggest event yet. Instead of having the exhibits in one room, the event will be held across the museum to incorporate more presenters while allowing attendees to enjoy the entire venue.
The definition of ‘maker’ is widely applied so as to include a variety of innovations, not only technological novelties but crafters as well. As Remco put it. “A maker is someone who is not satisfied with being a passive consumer, but wants to be an active participant.” In the spirit of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement, these makers are not satisfied with having a passive relationship to technology. Similar ‘Faires’ are held annually in other parts of Canada, in the US, as well as in other parts of the world like in the UK, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Australia, among others.
“The attraction of the event is the excitement of these really cool things happening. Some projects don’t have a practical application and are just for fun,” said Remco.
The Maker Faire is a good place to show off never-seen-before inventions. There is a frisbee throwing robot and a robot that can make martinis. Third year Carleton University Engineering student Charles Bergeron has crafted a daft punk-style LED helmet. There are lego inventions, ukelele makers, DIY pinball, a machine that carves your name into a hockey puck, and a “Star Wars” -like droid. This list really only scratches the surface of the variety and novelty of inventions. Many of the exhibits are interactive, and it’s also hands on activities for young adults and children.
Erin Kennedy, of RobotGrrl makes robots, like RobotBrrd. While at the Maker Faire in 2010 I met more people who were interested in robots there,” she said. I became totally hooked, and went to Maker Fairs in NY, Bay Area, Montreal, the Open Hardware Summit, and even got a Hackerspace Passport where I collect stamps and stickers from makerspaces that I visit around the world. It is so much fun.” She will be showing her new automatic food slicing robot at the event this weekend.
“Maker Faire is a fantastic event to demonstrate your inventions and projects, ” said Erin. The part that I enjoy most are learning how other people use my robots. Seeing this in action accelerates the design choices that are made to make the robots ready for a wider audience. Meeting other makers is fantastic, since you can learn new information from them.”
The Maker Faire takes place this Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17 at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology at 1867 St. Laurent Blvd from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.