Peculiarities, oddities and interesting people at Rome's Innovation Week

07 October 2014

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Last week I had the luck to participate in Rome’s Innovation Week, which included numerous conferences, speeches and closed with a crowded and inspiring Maker Faire. On Tuesday, the Open Source Hardware Association’s conference opened its gates. Very interesting topics by most of the speakers, with little technical knowledge required to follow their topic. Here I would like to give extra attention to some specific speakers:

Becky Stern from Adafruit was a great source of motivation for engaging into the wearables’ scene. Albertas Mickenas from wemakethings.net illustrated the correlation between the DIY culture in the Soviet era with the contemporary open source movement. Also I would like to quote him (loosely) on this: “If we are to deploy an Internet of things, we should first make sure that these things are ours”, implying that if we have machines and sensors monitoring on our daily life, then we have the obligation to make sure we know how they are made, how they work and who do they report to. Eric Pan from seeedstudio.com was one of my favorites. Blame my addiction to Chinese gadgets and tech. He stated some examples of open source projects, that were adopted by Chinese manufacturers and were either improved and/or produced massively. Truth be told, I have personally bought all my Arduinos from Chinese resellers, finding the official store too expensive. Gawin Dapper from phonebloks.com gave an insight to the Google’s Project Ara and demonstrated a never-seen-before video of a working prototype.

Unfortunately I could not be present in the afternoon sessions, which I am sure were equally interesting, but I managed to secure a spot in Eric Pan’s workshop the next day which offered a first hand experience of the bumpy ride from prototyping to manufacturing. In the meanwhile, the Meet IoT event was taking place so I joined in the morning session on Wednesday. More technical talk, still nothing too complex, mostly companies presenting their work. Very interesting presentations by Intel, STMicroelectronics, ARM, as well as by Rufo Guerreschi of the Open Media Cluster, regarding security issues that I personally had never even considered as a possibility before. Thursday was a sightseeing day and the prelude to the grand finale of the week, Rome’s Maker Faire. I was astounded by the great numbers of visitors who flocked Auditorium Parco della Musica in order to see all the cool stuff the numerous exhibitors had to show. From school and educational applications often made by… brave teachers working alone against the current (32b.it), to 3D printers using mud and cement, school student projects, open source shields, quadcopters, new micro controllers by Texas Instruments and even Microsoft promoted a product but unfortunately did not get the chance to hear more about it. The 5 hours that I stayed there were not enough to satisfy my taste and I would suggest visiting a Maker Faire to anyone, regardless of age and technical skills. To conclude, a BIG THANKS to Rome and the persons who managed to bring all these amazing people together, arranging and organization everything spectacularly, with almost no entrance fee for the participants!

Photos and videos from the events below. The amount of things to see and capture on camera was… overwhelming!

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