Recently, The Mars Agency attended FITC 2014 (Future Innovation Technology Conference two-thousand and fourteen) in Toronto. Every year the event plays host to speakers from some of the world’s most innovative companies and mixes them with designers, artists, and technologists to create an open discussion on the future of technology. This year provided us with insights into new programming languages and technologies being used by developers and designers, and gave us a glimpse into the future of our craft.

In this 3 part series I will discuss topics that influenced us and continue to be discussed in our office. Hopefully by the end you will be inspired to start an innovative project of your own.

Part 1: It’s Magic
Part 2: Choose Your Own Adventure
Part 3: The Internet will be Everywhere, Let’s Design for It (coming soon)

It’s Magic

“You can’t do technology for technology sake, you need to view technology as a prosthetic that amplifies the human experience. Why is it important for your customer to be connected and why is the experience going to be meaningful for them?”

If you haven’t heard of the Maker movement you soon will (because I’m literally about to tell you about it right now). Last year I had my first experience with Maker culture when I was invited to participate in the Pittsburgh Maker Fair with my Twitter-powered gumball machine, “Tweet-a-Tweat.” While there, a young student approached me and started asking questions about why I built the gumball machine and how I did it. He was so excited to learn and get involved that it gave this simple project new meaning.

After discussing at length the code and technologies that went into the machine – and by discussing I mean me talking and him staring at me with a look somewhere between wonder and bewilderment – he said, “I don’t really understand what you’re talking about, but I love your gumball machine because I can walk up to it, tweet a message and ‘poof,’ I get a treat… it’s magic.” He had summed it up perfectly. The fact is, the technology behind the device is inconsequential; it’s the experience it provides that makes it impactful.

According to Atmel, a major backer of the Maker movement, there are approximately 135 million adults in the U.S. who are Makers; and the overall market for 3D printing products and various Maker services hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020. According to USA Today, Makers fuel business with some $29 billion poured into the world economy each year. For more feedback on the economics of the Maker Movement, check out Jeremiah Owyang’s “Maker Movement and 3D Printing Industry Stats.”

The maker movement is going to lead to new possibilities, but it’s also going to introduce new responsibilities around digital transparency, cultural awareness, and the role of the designer. As products like 3D printers become more affordable and access to open source sharing platforms improves, it seems increasingly likely that in the future, we will all be Makers.

At The Mars Agency we have an opportunity to lead the future of technology by putting the human experience first in everything we do. We can all join the Maker movement by creating things on our own and inspiring brands and retailers to connect with their customers through real human interaction.

Below you will find some cost efficient and inspiring ideas that were shared at FITC that may just spark your inner passion to go out and make something – and yes there is an open source electric car.

Dad makes a prosthetic hand with 3d Printer for $10


Symbrachydactyly can affect 1 in 30,000 births, and the cost to purchase a new prosthetic for a growing child can be prohibitive. After finding open source instructions online for a 3D printed model, Paul McCarthy built an inexpensive and functional prosthetic hand for his son, Leon. The hand fits perfectly on Leon’s existing arm and can be upgraded as he grows.

Build an open source Nest-alike Thermostat for $70


Start a $3.2 billion company by building your own learning thermostat with the Spark Core. At Spark Project they are giving you the tools to connect everyday electronics to the Internet over Wi-Fi. For more info on the project click here

Build an open sourced car on lunch break for $4,296.33


TABBY is the first OS Vehicle: a production ready, versatile, universal chassis. The Tabby can be assembled in less then 1 hour and allows makers, designers, and manufactures download all 3D blueprints for free online.

How we hack the automotive industry: Carlo De Micheli at TEDxVilnius

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