Small entrepreneurs thinking big


Four things being cooked up in Chinese makerspaces

15th December 2014
By Tom Saunders

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.

DIY ArduinoPhone

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.

DIY Segway

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.


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