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Maker movement takes over Technori

Maker movement takes over Technori

by TODD STOLARSKI at Technori in Chicago  | Feb 26, 2015

A palpable buzz filled the air among the roughly 500 geeks, veeps, and entrepreneurs who attended this month's Technori startup showcase at the Chase Auditorium earlier this week. I was doubly pumped to be there because the venue also is home to one of my favorite weeky radio shows, NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me. But before I could enter this national public shrine, I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with symposium attendees and get a preview of some of the tech to be presented during the main event. 

With people mingling about, the one attraction that consistently captivated the most attention was the LulzBot TAZ 3D printer, presented by the Chicago Innovation Exchange. While marveling at its capabilities, Branko Trajkovski of Macedonia-based Bransys said: "From a manufacturing standpoint, this is a game changer.  Now, when you're child breaks a toy, you'll just print them a new one!"  

One table over, our friends at Catalyze showed just how far they have come since their birth last year. Promotional literature boasted that they have already generated $28 million in membership revenue.  

Another technology on display was a sustainable wind generating energy prototype from HyperTilt.  HyperTilt aims to revolutionize the way we see wind farms, but more on them later. It was time to head into the theater to dine on our main course of speakers and presenters. 

Wait, wait, don't price us out! From left, Andrea Saenz, Jeff Solin, Bill Fienup, and Michael Una at the Chase.

Wait, wait, don't price us out! From left, Andrea Saenz, Jeff Solin, Bill Fienup, and Michael Una at the Chase.

The lights dimmed as Seth Kravitz, co-founder of Technori, introduced our illustrious four-person panel for the evening. Collectively, they began discussing the current Cambrian explosion of the maker movement. The key to this, as they agreed, has been to make the technology affordable to the masses; crowd-funding has played a critical role making this happen. Chicago Public Library's Andrea Saenz spoke proudly of CPL's maker lab, which offers free workshops, open lab hours and drop-in demonstrations.

Panel member Jeff Solin, owner of Solin Systems and Computer Science teacher at Lane Tech, spoke of the rapid expansion of diversity within the community and the growth of further maker spaces where students are free to embrace learning through failing. Michael Una of Inventables echoed a similar sentiment about refusing to accept the status quo. In grammar school, we are led to believe that receiving an 'A' on your report card is the only way to succeed. In the maker movement, however, with hands-on learning, the opposite is true. Try, fail, and repeat, until you master the product inside your own hands. With the panel sent off into the night with a well-deserved raucous applause, it was now time to hear from the aforementioned HyperTilt 

"We've got the whole world..."

"We've got the whole world..."

The prototype is a sustainable wind energy source which aims to increase our reliance on this green product in both commercial and residential usage. Rather than the wind turbines we all know now, HyperTilt aspires to bring wind energy down to lower elevations which, in turn, will increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of usage. By using an internal mechanism, the HyperTilt rotates all of its flat blades around and reduces the associated aero drag.  Currently, we generate 4% of our energy from wind.  Globally, if we want to get to 80% of renewable energy, nearly a third will have to be wind-generated. Should the intriguing HyperTilt technology progress beyond the prototype phase, we may just live in that future they envision. 


For more information on HyperTilt, check out their website at: http://www.hypertilt.com/

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