Dozens of bubbles wafted through the air, inciting the squeals and frenzied kicks of a young boy brazenly intent on bursting them all. Between booths at Maker Faire Bangkok 2019, Yasuhito Sakuraba stepped slowly as if wading through water, head encased in an astronaut-like helmet responsible for emitting sporadic bursts of bubbles. Even through the glass, he couldn’t repress a smile.
“This kind of invention expresses the feeling of a scuba diver deep in the sea. I wanted to make something the kids would like,” said Sakuraba, who traveled from Tokyo to attend Maker Faire Bangkok from Jan 19-20 at The Street Ratchada for the second year in a row. “Technology can let people enjoy life.”
Sakuraba explained to onlookers that his helmet made use of recycled materials, including the pipe of a washing machine. An arduino changed the colors on a string of LED lights and also activated a motor that emitted a stream of air at the speed of human breath. The invention reflected the creativity, ingenuity and playfulness of the Maker movement that has taken the world by storm.
“A maker is someone who can bring out the inspiration in himself through invention,” said Pornchai Oranrikadest from Chiang Mai Maker Club.
The largest Maker Faire in Southeast Asia, Maker Faire Bangkok dazzled and challenged audience members to think about the endless possibilities of ‘making.’ Over seventy booths showcased 3D printers, heat laser cutters, VR game programmers, homemade motorcycles and wheelchairs, prosthetic arms, artificially intelligent robots, and even a software that could convert a user’s face into an anime character.
Sponsored by Chevron Enjoy Science, the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the National Science Museum (NSM), Office of Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) and the Thai maker community, Maker Faire Bangkok 2019 aimed to empower Thai people to express their creativity through technology, realizing inventions to improve daily life, address local and international issues, or simply provoke joy.
“Anyone can be a maker with the right mindset and enough imagination,” said Artit Krichphiphat, Business Support General Manager of Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Ltd. “These ideas can be turned into future innovations that can change the face of our country.”
“[Maker Faire] is great because it gives us a space to show people inventions that can help make the world a better place to live,” said Surasak Fonghiransiri, who was part of the 20 finalist teams in this year’s Young Makers Contest, which held its final round at the Faire.
Finalists from general and technical schools across Thailand were sponsored to travel to the Faire in order to unveil their prototypes to judges and the public. The Young Makers Contest booths exhibited food composters, oil skimmers, smart trash bins, and more inventions on the theme of “green innovation” dreamed up and realized by the student teams.
The engagement of youth in the coming technological era is vital to Thailand’s transition into the Industry 4.0 economy. “I believe that if adequate support from the public and private sectors is given to Thai youths, which include a platform to share and exchange their ideas or showcases and competitions, the maker movement in the country can take hold, grow and move Thailand forward as a Maker Nation, on par with other countries,” said Tanapon Kitmuti, an AI maker and computer engineer.
Young Maker teams were given support and advice from adult maker mentors who encouraged the students to learn new technologies to accomplish their visions. “My advice to others would be that when you are doing something, don’t be shy,” said Natchanun Poonsawat, an upper secondary student from Kamnoetvidya Science Academy, “because all the makers make us feel relaxed. It feels like we are all family.”
At the opening ceremony of Maker Faire Bangkok, a panel of prominent makers in Thailand announced over 1.2 million baht’s worth of prizes for Young Makers Contest teams, including a trip to the Bay Area Maker Faire for first place teams. The top award went to the Oil Clean-Up Robot from Satree Phatthalung School in the general education category, and Clean Oyster from Surat Thani Technical College in the technical education category.
“We are here because we love it, or else we could not have gotten to this point,” said Anurak Kaowwat, one of the winning makers of Oil Clean-Up Robot from Satree Phatthalung School.
“It’s like we’re exploring a whole new world,” said Karnpitcha Karnchanaket.
March 6, 2019