SparkFun Electronics Reflects Upon 2011, Talks Trends for Future
BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — SparkFun Electronics (www.sparkfun.com), a provider of parts, knowledge and passion for electronics creation, today said that the open source hardware model and DIY maker movement are converging to foster amazing ingenuity and exceptional growth for both industries. SparkFun saw significant growth as a company in 2011 (the company grew 34.4 percent year-to-year), reflecting both the community in which the company is involved and a growing interest in DIY electronics.
SparkFun aims to continue increasing participation in 2012 by furthering its Education Program through the launch of a new web portal in the coming weeks (www.learn.sparkfun.com). The new website will provide a number of resources for students, parents and teachers with a goal of helping lowering the barriers for people of all ages to get started through education and enlightenment.
“We’ve hired a quite a few new people to keep up with the increasing demand for DIY and the maker movement,” explained Pete Dokter, director of engineering. “The interest in and growth of our Education Department has been foremost in our minds. For 2012, we expect to see it all continue. More classes, more fun, geekier projects and tutorials, more web content and community-building in general.”
Here are some other industry trends Dokter and Education Director Lindsay Levkoff cited:
- DIY electronic components that are easy to program and that can then be “broken” into individual components dramatically lowering the barrier of learning electronics and programming. A great example is SparkFun’s ProtoSnap, which the company introduced last year. This new design incorporates the snap-apart idea. Arduino also is on track for several new releases, such as the Leonardo board.
- A greater focus on education and learning around STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). Besides SparkFun, several other companies in the maker movement are encouraging the need to incorporate STEAM at an earlier age and with a concerted effort. President Obama also is helping support this cause through a proposed 2013 budget increase for education with the promise of training 100,000 well-qualified science and math teachers and producing 1 million additional STEM graduates by 2020.
- Growth in the Open Source Hardware movement. The movement continues to gain momentum and is showing no signs of abating. This has led to the creation of an entity dedicated to the movement called the Open Source HardWare Association (OSHWA). The Open Source model allows organizations to provide technology at a reasonable price point and encourages greater community involvement. This makes it easier and more cost-effective to incorporate STEAM learning into the classroom.
- Growth in e-textiles or wearable electronics. Embedded electronics and fashion are combining into a whole new market that is geared toward introducing individuals to the fashionable side of electronics. Everything from Plushbots to electronics embedded into clothing are made using conductive thread, sensors, power supplies, LEDs and more. As more people learn about these colliding worlds, SparkFun expects growth of its e-textile products, like the LilyPad, to explode. E-textiles is considered one of the easiest, most fun and creative ways for individuals to embrace electronics because of its reasonable learning curve, the fact that no requires no soldering is required and the technology is wearable.
- Unleashed imagination! In 2011, the first sign-language-to-speech system was created by an Eighth grade student (http://www.sparkfun.com/news/664). This project and its creator embody the spirit of what SparkFun and others in the DIY community are trying to do: illustrate that anyone with an idea can create something not only interesting, but something fantastically useful. SparkFun is very proud to have been a part of this project.
“Our goal is to improve the accessibility and affordability of technology for increased participation through education across all areas of the United States (and world) – including under-represented populations,” said Levkoff. “In 2012, we will be creating new products and educational materials that will foster partnerships with more schools, districts and communities. Ultimately, we want to create the tools and materials that encourage people of all ages to hack, tinker, play and create.”
About SparkFun Electronics
Founded in 2003, SparkFun shares its passion by providing parts, knowledge, and innovation for those looking to explore the world of embedded electronics. It helps anyone discover their inner inventor and enables individuals to create their own electronics projects. SparkFun currently offers more than 1,800 products, ranging from simple components, like capacitors and resistors, to GPS units and Bluetooth modules. The company employs 135 people and is based in Boulder, Colorado.
Find SparkFun on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/SparkFun), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SparkFun), Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/SparkFun), YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/SparkFun), Vimeo (http://www.vimeo.com/SparkFun), and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/106084846822083498483/posts)
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SOURCE SparkFun Electronics