Chapter Spotlight: playhardware, with Matthias Wolf

littleBits Workshops in Munich, Germany

June 24, 2015

playhardware

Matthias Wolf

 

MatthiasWolf

 

I am based in…

Munich, Germany

Tell us more about your organization/space.

playhardware is a community of makers who want to bring hardware, software and mechanics closer together. Our goal is to build products and projects which integrate the possibilities of both the physical and the digital world to create something even bigger. We share an enthusiasm for making and rapid prototyping and we want to help people discover the capabilities that might be buried within them. To do so we meet, build, demonstrate and learn.

I was inspired to start a Global Chapter because…

I saw a video of the cloudBit in action one day and within seconds I was wowed with all the possibilities and ideas that came to my mind. All of a sudden you didn’t have to be an expert to build something like a cloud-based intruder alarm!

However, I didn’t want to build projects all on my own and so I planned to organize a workshop to meet people and build projects with littleBits and LEGO. That’s where the announcement of the Global Chapter Program came in. I realized that most people in Germany didn’t know littleBits and those who did haven’t had the chance to try them out. So I took this once-in-a-lifetime chance and started the first German-speaking chapter. 

Tell us about your most recent event.

We had an all-day workshop on June 20, 2015 called Bits’n’Beatz covering the topic of internet of things at the office of DieProduktMacher in Munich. We had tons of littleBits, craft materials and about 30 kg of LEGO, way more than we could place on our materials table. It was great to see the fascination and enthusiasm once people realized what they are able to build.

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In the evening we had live music by some of the greatest 8bit artists in the world. Ultrasyd and J8bit performed live using Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Commodore or Amiga. 

 

What were some of the projects that came out of your event?

A carrot-vore cyber bunny with twinkling eyes which wags its tail and rings a small bell every time you pet it. Great use of the Makey Makey module!

• A flashlight with changeable colors.

• A cloud-controlled car.

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• An autonomous trike which used the bend sensor for collision detection and steering and incorporated the prototype of the ultrasonic module.

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• An Arduino drum machine.

• A turning night light with disco mode.

• A catapult with automatic trigger and recharge. (Awesome to see in super slow motion!)

• A cloud-controlled tree watering car.

• A blinking dancing crown.

What did you learn from hosting this event?

We had many different people in our workshop group: designers, engineers, product managers, musicians and a mother with young children. Yet they were all engaging similarly with the possibilities the material provided gave them to realize their ideas. Some focused on turning on light with the sound trigger others used the cloudBit or Arduino Coding Kit to build more complicated projects.

We worked in iterations, meaning that every 90-minutes people had to demonstrate what they have got. They groups gave feedback and tips on how to improve the design. This led to a vast amount of creative ideas. However, people also copied great solutions they saw to use in their own projects. They learned that sharing knowledge is for the good of everyone. And that it is good to take a break and ask for feedback often.

People needed time to get the hang of how the bits work and what they do. But they quickly advanced to build highly sophisticated projects where some more logic bits could have been helpful. We thought we had enough bits but in the end we were short on wires, inverters and motor mates. We know what to buy for the next workshop.

Who else in your community inspires you?

I think the whole maker community is highly inspiring at the moment. There are people who explore their abilities and possibilities everywhere. The make music, build great products from scratch, experiment with wearables, write awesome software and cook jam using fruit from their gardens. What unites them is the desire to create something, self-actualize, change the world and have fun while doing all this.

What’s next for your chapter?

We will meet regularly every month to build new projects, talk about new bits and changing technology and learn new abilities like programming or designing 3D models. We want to encourage people to create products themselves, not only consume what is given tot hem. We are going to expand to not only use littleBits but also other easy to use materials like RaspberryPi or Arduino in our workshops. We’re giving management workshops on improving collaboration, design thinking, the Agile Framework and the internet of things. We are also thinking about hosting workshops in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, which is the world’s largest museum on science and technology.