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The first visual authoring tool for leveraging the "Internet of Everything" to build and share your big ideas.

Introduction:  

We’re obsessed with the Internet of Things—or really, we call it the “Internet of Everything.” We’ve created something revolutionary called MakerSwarm where you can link things together without ever writing one single line of code. All you have to do is use your imagination. MakerSwarm gives the power of X-ray vision to makers, so that they can "see" into any of the smart devices around them, from cell phones to TV sets, from connected thermostats to wearable sensors. It's about giving you visual tools so that you can grab hold of any capability within a device and drag and drop it into a new app that spans across a swarm of your friends' devices in a massive peer-to-peer community.

People and Their Swarms
People and Their Swarms

MakerSwarm lowers the bar for building never-before-seen Internet of Everything experiences and unlocks the power of trillions of connected devices so that the best makers can earn rewards in the market of ideas. 

And, if you're a parent, teacher, or anyone who has anything to do with improving kids' lives, then MakerSwarm is the perfect way to engage both sides of their young minds. Think circuitry meets architecture, or logic meets design. MakerSwarm will activate their left and right brains in STEAM thinking—simultaneously teaching them science, technology, engineering, art, and math.   

How We Got Here:

Since the early 1990s, MAYA’s work in both the commercial sphere and in basic research has focused on narrowing the chasm that divides the users of computers from the developers of computers. For example, in the 90s we built a demonstration of a 3D desktop called 200 Points of Light to explore what would happen if you could directly manipulate all the documents on your computer. This later led to what Xerox PARC, Intel, and Microsoft all called "the first 3-Dimensional document management system" called Workscape. Soon thereafter we teamed up with the SAGE group at Carnegie Mellon to build Visage, a prototype software environment for exploring and visualizing large amounts of diverse information. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, we continued our research into pervasive computing culminating in the publishing of our field guide for the Internet of Everything, called Trillions. Below are two excerpts from Trillions.

In 2010 MAYA proposed a research project to be funded by the United States Government's "Department of Mad Science," or DARPA (the same organization that fueled the creation of the Internet and more recently self-driving cars by the likes of Google). We wanted to build a platform that enables power users, using interchangeable components, to build “applications” with highly usable interfaces without resorting to long, complex development processes and teams of programmers. We thought of it as a roll of duct tape for the MacGyvers out there, and code named it "MacG."

MacG Concept Sketch
MacG Concept Sketch

In 2012, MAYA finished the DARPA research and delivered the precursor to MakerSwarm. We wanted to foster a community of people who could innovate and cobble together apps across devices without waiting for a costly, highly organized software development cycle. That first prototype had limited support for devices and had no network access. But, it was a valuable proof of concept that explored the possibilities that open up when normal people can mashup hardware and software.  

We decided to invest our own time and money into taking this early concept to the next level. Over the last year, we've built out support for peer-to-peer networking among devices, added a host of other components from toys to home automation systems (for a full list of components so far, check out our list here) and have started experimenting with robotic "hives" that can connect to the swarm and activate all sorts of things in the real world with servos buttons, dials, and displays.

In the spring, we entered the big DEMO conference in San Francisco with our MakerSwarm idea and locked ourselves in our basement laboratory until we had something amazing to show.

MakerSwarm Labs
MakerSwarm Labs
Storyboard For DEMO Conference
Storyboard For DEMO Conference
Practicing for DEMO
Practicing for DEMO

We went to DEMO and won the DEMO God award for most ambitious demo.

However, we realized that we weren't doing enough, and we weren't able to move fast enough on our own. We also started to hear from all sorts of people who wanted to help out, become test pilots for the swarm, and lower the barrier even more so that a 10-year-old could assemble a swarm of 10,000 devices into a never before seen idea in 10 minutes.

Wow! That's a challenge. Could we do it? Could MakerSwarm help the next generation of kids dream bigger?

Brainstorming with Students
Brainstorming with Students

We began running brainstorming sessions with kids, parents, and school teachers and saw that there was a huge opportunity to take MakerSwarm to the next level. 

What if we could build game mechanics right into the system so that anyone could learn to build big ideas and have fun while they gained mastery?

As users learned new skills they could unlock new capabilities and earn credits along the way...

That's when we realized we needed your help!

We want to mobilize a community of inventors, dreamers, and malcontents who are interested in making unheard of, never before seen, crazy, artistic, stunning, and maybe, just maybe, world-changing, ideas.

Whew! Did you really read all that stuff? Do you want to be a test pilot and help us get this out into the world? We can't do it alone and we know you'll have better ideas than we do.

More Details on MakerSwarm:  

Have you ever wanted to connect your phone to your garage door? Or, maybe you’d like your phone to alert you when someone sneaks cookies from the pantry? How about going to a wedding where every photo anyone takes is automatically uploaded to a shared space? Well, all you need is the right authoring tool to make it happen… and that’s why you need MakerSwarm.

We give you the superpower to be a hacker (even if you’re not). MakerSwarm is an authoring tool that gives you the ability to make any idea you can imagine. You can unlock the mysteries of your own phones and tablets to build useful, innovative, and even eccentric things, for a full list of current support features see: http://www.makerswarm.com/v2/info/. Think about it—the possibilities are limitless. With MakerSwarm, you simply tap, connect, and build.

Using all the features of your Android device, MakerSwarm could help you invent an app to brew your morning joe or power down your basement studio from your phone. It’s intuitive enough for a novice or a child to use but it also has scripting and an SDK that's open so that an ambitious programmer can customize it. 

We even offer a “Starter Maker Kit” which is a box of fun gadgets (including 2 proximity sensors, 6 NFC sensor tags, 1 NFC key fob, deck of idea cards and QR sticker codes) to help you start creating your own apps.

With the full version of MakerSwarm, you can even connect with other DIY hackers and form new communities. Then, you can communicate with anyone else in your community and create even more robust apps. Plus, share your DIY creations at the MakerSwarm Marketplace. If other people buy what you’ve created, you’ll get points to buy other DIY creations.

Finally, enhance your MakerSwarm with stackable robot hive modules, a revolutionary product which allows you to integrate a variety of things— digital or physical—into one functioning unit. The hive modules we’ve created will make it even easier for you to be a DIY hacker. The 3-hive module package includes: input/output expander, WiFi connector and a base. Plus, we'll include an analog dial, button, and character display to get you started building. The 5-hive module package includes everything in the 3-hive module package plus an Insteon/x10 module so that you can manage all your electrical devices used for home automation and a servo, a motor to power your dreams.

MakerSwarm Hive Demo:

Stacked Modules
Stacked Modules
Hive Modules
Hive Modules

But we can’t do it ourselves just yet. We need you. Help us finish MakerSwarm. Through user testing sessions, we can refine the user interface for MakerSwarm and finish building the MakerSwarm Marketplace.  Together, we can launch something truly revolutionary: anyone, anywhere in the world, equipped to invent our future by using a visual authoring tool. 

In appreciation for certain level backers, be a proud wearer of this first edition MakerSwarm t-shirt:

And a few high-level backers will be proud to have their own MakerSwarm Action Figure on their desks.

 What We Will Do With The Kickstarter Funds:

  • Interface Design - We want MakerSwarm to be accessible to practically everyone.  We will use a large portion of funding to overhaul the current user interface (UI) by making it simpler and more inviting, building useful learning tools, and streamlining the design process.
  • User Experience (UX) Testing - We will use a portion of the funding to conduct usability testing with a wide range of users.
  • The Marketplace - Makers should be able to share, trade, and possibly sell their blueprints to other members of the MakerSwarm community.  With your help, we will build a marketplace that does just that.
  • Strengthen our Network - We will create a robust "personal cloud" network layer that handles failures gracefully and is capable of managing complex peer-to-peer network communications so your swarms will work even if you have zero infrastructure.
  • Add Hive Logic - Hive Logic will allow blueprints to define the types of devices that can be part of a running blueprint without the Maker finding that specific device by name. This makes it even easier for Makers to create.
  • Add Maker Profiles/Security - Makers will create a profile with MakerSwarm that will allow them to share, collaborate, and build blueprints with other MakerSwarm Makers. Profiles will also give members of the swarm the ability to connect to their favorite social network and manage privacy and resource allocation.
  • New Components - New components will be created for external devices and web services that are currently supported. List of current components can be found here under "Toys and Gadgets": http://www.makerswarm.com/v2/info/
  • Scripting Component - For more advanced Makers, we will build a scripting component that will let users write small scripts into their blueprints.
  • Component Software Developers Kit (SDK) - We will document the SDK to allow hardcore Makers to build their own device components.

Schedule:

Note: One of MAYA's successful spin-out companies, LUMA Institute, teaches Human-Centered Design methods so that product developers put people first. We'll be using LUMA techniques during the whole development cycle. Putting people first with constant feedback builds better applications.

Month 1: We will deliver an alpha version of MakerSwarm to our test pilots (everyone who has backed us). We will also begin development of our Profiles/Security layer. 

Month 2: We will create a Scripting Component and finish the Profiles/Security layer and begin work on solidifying the network layer.

Month 3: Deliver new version of MakerSwarm to test pilots that includes the new Scripting Component and the Profiles/Security layer. Design our plans for upgrading the UI based on the early user sessions that we'll be running throughout the project. 

Month 4: Begin development on the marketplace, UI enhancements, and Hive Logic.

Month 5: Deliver new version of MakeSwarm to test pilots that includes some of the new UI enchantments and the beginnings of the marketplace, and finish development of the marketplace and UI enhancements.

Month 6: Make final adjustments to UI based on the ongoing user sessions and test pilot feedback. Solidify code base for final release. Write documents for the Component SDK and begin the process of getting MakerSwarm into Google Play.

Month 7: We'll deliver all our rewards and then go celebrate with beer and cheese!

Meet the Team:

 Mickey McManus, President & CEO: As president, CEO, and principal of MAYA Design, Mickey McManus leads a highly-skilled, interdisciplinary team that works at the intersection of complex, information-rich technology and human experience.  Read here for full bio...

 Matthew Casebeer, Senior Game Designer & Senior Software Engineer: Matt is a highly skilled software engineer, game designer, and maker. Case started a life-long interest in game design by creating games for fun in the early 1980s, and the impact of this early experience has permeated his career.  Read here for full bio...

 Stuart Roth, Senior Software Engineer:  Stuart has dedicated much of his time at MAYA helping to make the Universal Database a reality. He continues to be a prime contributor to key pieces of MAYA’s research agenda that began some years ago with the development of Visage.  Read here for full bio..

Jon Larkin, Designer:  Jon is passionate about using the principles of game design to create satisfying and engaging user experiences. Especially for interactive environments, games offer designers a way to think about the user’s emotional response to a product, service, or experience.  Read here for full bio...

Mike Boselowitz, Software Design Engineer: Mike is a life-long maker of things, from BattleBots to websites. His hands-on approach to engineering comes from an ardent desire to bend the rules of what we understanding computing to be.  Read here for full bio...

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As with all projects, there may be unexpected bumps along the journey. However, we already have working versions of the MakerSwarm app for the Android phone and the stackable hive modules have already been tested. The expected delivery date for all MakerSwarm rewards is March 2014.

Please note that the MakerSwarm app is currently being developed for Android only. Apple doesn't really like it when you make apps that make apps that can make apps. But we have built our entire architecture around the idea of scaling seamlessly to support other operating systems in the future!

FAQ

  • Currently because MakerSwarm's Authoring Tool creates new applications on the device based on your designs which isn't allowed on iOS. Apple doesn't allow one application to create another. YET! This doesn't mean you won't be able to control your iOS based products via MakerSwarm. We do plan to allow you to connect to iOS devices and take advantage of their powers just like any other external device. You just won't be able to build your blue prints on them.

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    MakerSwarm Action Pack Figure. In addition to the "Ultra Maker Kit," you'll receive a custom-made action figure controlled by MakerSwarm. We'll ask you some question about the origins of the action figure, request some photos, and build you a custom action figure that will have a MakerSwarm controlled gesture. Plus, we'll already have created the app for your action figure in the MakerSwarm Marketplace so that you're ready to roll. You will also become a Test Pilot for all alpha/beta versions.

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