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Supercharge your makerspace with IoT power

Making is rewarding and can be challenging at the same time. If the challenge gets to be too much, the reward may not happen. To overcome this, we can create smart makerspaces with devices connected via the IoT. In this project from the User Interface group, the smart makerspace is built around an interactive workbench that guides users through their tasks.

The workbench is an 84", 4K digital whiteboard covered with a 3mm sheet of acrylic to protect the screen from tools and project pieces. Above the workbench, a depth sensing camera is mounted to track the position and placement of objects. In addition to tracking parts and being the workspace, the workbench has instructions in the form of digital documentation and videos to guide the user through the tasks and provide additional background information.

Beside the workbench is a collection of small tools and project parts. Unlike a typical storage cabinet, this is connected to the workbench by USB Phidgets and it makes it easy for the user to find the required part. Need a CLL020 LED for your next step of the project? The appropriate storage compartment will light up making it easy to find. Who wouldn't want this at their local hardware store? 

Tools in the smart makerspace have been augmented to be smart and connected. For example, the soldering iron has a precision light sensor placed over its power light so the system knows its state: off, heating or ready. A proximity sensor is attached to the holster so that the system knows whether the iron is present or has been removed.


Smart safety glasses were created that include conductive tape over the nose to determine if the maker is actually wearing them. Imagine a world where dangerous tools won't work until the user is following all the appropriate safety precautions!


This research opens up a lot of possibilities for efficient and safe workplaces. Combine it with robots like in the HIVE and anything is possible! You can read more about the smart makerspace in the publication and see it in action in the video below.


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