Makerspaces in China often look a lot like the ones we have in the UK: they provide a space for hobbyists to play with high-end manufacturing tools, attend lectures and take part in hackathons. But the proliferation of spaces that offer digital fabrication, coupled with China’s unique advantages – the spirit of fearless experimentalism among entrepreneurs and easy access to cheap hardware – mean that China could be the place where the maker movement really takes off, and starts to achieve real-world impact. Here are just a few of the things that Chinese makers are spending their time on.
Ai. Frame robot
Ai.Frame is an open-source, fully customisable humanoid robot packed with sophisticated sensors. Users can control it with an Android app or a wearable body-motion controller.
The ArduinoPhone is a mobile phone based on an Arduino circuit board in a 3D-printed shell. Developed by Seeed Studio, the company also offers how-to tutorials and incorporates the best ideas from other makers into its products too.
Impressive experimentalism is on show at Nanjing Makerpace, where they’re taking on the tough challenge of making a DIY, open-source Segway. The makerspace also publishes instructions on their website so anyone can have a go at building their own.
Personal air pollution sensors
With air pollution a major issue in Chinese cities, air quality apps are popular. But these only display data for a city or a district – making it difficult to know exactly how polluted the air around you is. To solve this, students at Design Now, part of Tsinghua University, have created a portable pollution sensor, which displays air quality data, changing colour when a certain limit is reached.