White House Maker Faire: 10 Cool Inventions

More than 100 exhibitors of all ages gathered at the White House to show off their inventions. Check out some of the intriguing innovations.
Engineering comes to lifeA 17-foot-tall, 2,200-pound robotic giraffe dominated the South Lawn at the White House during the M
3D modeling of moleculesDarrell Hurt, a structural biologist working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), came up with
3D printing for all agesDarius McCoy, a 16-year-old student from Baltimore, Md., displayed objects he created using Printrbot
Underwater robot explores oceansDavid Lang and Eric Stackpole prototyped an idea for a low-cost underwater robot and approach
Accessible electronic learningTeenage entrepreneur Quin Etnyre used open source electronics platform Arduino to launch his ow
Robotics gurusSisters Camille and Genevieve Beatty of Asheville, N.C., began experimenting with robotics at a young age. With
Legos for the next generationKrystal Persaud is a product designer for littleBits, a New York City-based company that allows
Go for a walk, charge your iPhoneHahna Alexander, of Pittsburgh, Pa., has found a way to power mobile phones with every foots
Smart urban furnitureAnother clever way to charge a mobile device is by plugging it into a solar-powered bench on the street.
DIY balloons map communitiesSara Wylie co-launched Public Lab to provide citizen scientists with do-it-yourself tools for stu

Inventors and entrepreneurs across the country, including students and regular citizens, are using technology such as 3D printers, desktop tools, and design software to come up with innovative ideas. More than 100 of these "makers" from more than 25 states gathered at the White House on June 18 to showcase their ingenuity in the first-ever White House Maker Faire.

"I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills," President Obama said in a proclamation issued prior to the Maker Faire. "This event celebrates every maker -- from students learning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills to entrepreneurs launching new businesses to innovators powering the renaissance in American manufacturing."

A more detailed view of the participants is available on this story map created by Esri, a provider of geographic information systems mapping software. The map is split into four categories: exhibitors and honored makers, participating universities, participating libraries, and maker mayors.

In addition to spotlighting various exhibits, the president used the Maker Faire as an opportunity to launch new efforts aimed at creating businesses and jobs. More than 13 federal agencies and companies such as Etsy, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo made commitments to provide inventors and entrepreneurs with support services, such as startup grants and business mentoring. For example, Etsy and Fuze Hub, which was launched with a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership, will conduct a pilot to help small designers get access to local manufacturers.

The president also announced that the Small Business Administration, through its $2.5 million Accelerator competition, is calling upon communities to support startup accelerators and "maker spaces" for entrepreneurs. The SBA will work with the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to raise awareness and cultivate a new generation of inventors.

Separately, the USPTO plans to open outreach spaces that will host programming for inventors in the agency's four new regional offices in Detroit, Denver, Silicon Valley, and Dallas. Additionally, the USPTO will release a how-to guide on patenting and IP issues for entrepreneurs, and it will host a series of roadshows across the country.

The Maker Faire showcased how people of all ages are using technology in creative ways, and why it's important for the Obama administration to support such efforts. Explore our slideshow to see some of the event's fascinating inventions and their creators.

Image source: White House

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