Made In China: Eric Pan And Open Source Hardware

Lyn Jeffery | Boing Boing | June 11, 2013

Maker culture is being remade in China. Along with pioneers like Bunnie Huang and David Li, of Shanghai hackerspace Xinchejian, Eric Pan and his open hardware facilitator, Seeed Studio are accelerating the global maker movement by helping people source, design, produce, and commercialize their maker projects. And just as importantly, they are fueling a Chinese maker movement that is starting to take full advantage of both Shenzhen’s awesome manufacturing capacities and China’s shanzhai superpowers.

Seeed recently attended the Bay Area Maker Faire, where they received an Educators Choice Award and brought such delights as a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) shield for building connections between Arduino and iOS devices, a critical enabling component for makers; their open source wearable solution called Xadow, enabling everybody to make add-ons for Google Glass, iWatch, etc.; the DSO quad, a pocket size 4 channel digital oscilloscope developed by a veteran engineer team in Guangzhou who did it for fun and open-sourced the design; and a recent hot collaborative product, the Crazyflie nano quadcopter kit. Along with Boing Boing’s Mark Frauenfelder, Eric will be keynoting the Tokyo Maker Conference on June 15th.

At the Institute for the Future where I'm a researcher, we’ve been tracking the co-evolution of makers in the U.S. and Europe, and their counterparts in China for the past couple of years. I caught up with Eric to talk about how, in just the past twelve months, the maker movement has reached a tipping point in Shenzhen — a place he calls “the Hollywood of hardware.”