SAN MATEO, Calif. — The chief executive of ARM came to Maker Faire Bay Area where the company had a small booth for the first time this year. Intel had a much larger tent, starring its Quark processor and a young man who demonstrated a marshmallow gun to President Barack Obama.
The archrivals were among many of the top tech companies that had a presence at the event this year, trying to ride the growing grassroots movement dedicated to the joy of democratic design.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon boards powered miniature race cars driven by smartphones. Freescale brought out big nerf guns. Altera showed an FPGA driving a robotic plotter. Sony let kids play with its new prototype for smart blocks. Oracle's Java engineers hosted an informal hackathon and one of the sailors from its World Cup ship.
The usual crew also was on hand. Maker celebrity Massimo Banzi introduced a new Arduino board and design tools. Autodesk CEO Carl Bass talked about his tools -- free to students and teachers -- and showed an electric go-cart he made with his son.
Much of the event continues to focus on introducing kids to the power of electronics. Tech fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht gave away Sparkfun kits to girls and boys.
Everywhere you turned were quadcopters or steampunk vehicles or some sort of 3D printer, including ones making Oreo cookies and pancakes. They were part of the carnival atmosphere, along with a handful of more serious projects, trying to leverage crowdsourced funds into business stardom.
This robotic, steampunk-inspired fire truck is one many icons just inside the entrance to Maker Faire Bay Area.
There was way too much to see for our one day at the event. That said, we saw a lot and heard a few good stories. Take a look on the following pages.