From bike-powered cell phone charging stations to laser printers, SXSW Create at the Long Center Terrace brings festivalgoers and the public together to show what’s possible when you follow a good idea.
As a growing maker movement continues to strengthen nationwide, do-it-yourself and maker topics at SXSWi this year have risen in popularity.
At the free event that runs from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Little Bits, a company that provides kits to make your own synthesizer, demonstrated how you don’t have to be a professional musician to create your own beats.
Little Bits presented how synthesizer circuits work and how they could produce everything from spooky to robotic sounds. Kits retail for $159. Little Bits designer and editor Emily Tuteur says musicians from Reggie Watts to some SXSW showcasing DJs are using these DIY synthesizers in their shows.
As small helicopters powered by smartphones flew overhead, festivalgoers learned how to make their own nail polish at a booth nearby by local company Feto Soap.
Though savvy engineers filled the event, the Austin Tinkering School was also present offering festivalgoers a chance to build something a bit more low-key—a wooden car. Once completed, people could race it at a wooden track called the Nerdy Derby.
The school, which encourages children and adults to build, design and create, was a popular attraction. Seeing a 3D printer may be intimidating at first, says Kami Wilt, Austin Tinkering School founder. “You might think, ‘How can I build that’?” she says.
So the idea is to start simple, with activities like building a wooden car so that people can see how things work, feel empowered and gain the confidence to move on to bigger things later on in life, Wilt says.
“You might feel like you are shut off from the idea of being a maker, but everyone is a maker even if you don’t identify as one.”
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